Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Secular

The farther away from Christianity I get, well, the farther away I get. The more the logical inconsistencies confound me. Driving home from V's parents' house, we passed a sign with John 3:16 and the words "How long would you let your child hang on a cross?"

That had the complete opposite effect of the writer's intention, I imagine. I wouldn't. At all. I remember asking my dad about that, when I was about twelve, and him telling me that God is Just. That answer satisfied me then, barely. But now?

Either he's God, or he isn't. If he's held to a specific definition of Justice, then justice is more powerful than he is. In which case, I'll skip God and "worship" that higher morality. If he isn't, then he could arrange things so that no crucifixion was necessary. This isn't new, I know. But seeing that sign solidified it, even more, for me.

When I started walking away from God, it was reluctant. I felt forced away, made to choose between love and religion, and I chose love. Then I wanted to stay away, because it was too complicated to stay. Slowly, that turned into wanting to forget the whole thing. I had no thoughts on religion. No comment. Most of my life had been spent having thoughts and comments about "God."

And now, "God" is in quotes. I'm done. I'm done jumping through hoops for reasons I don't even remember. In the car yesterday, I asked V, "Why? Why should I have faith?" and, coming from her family's perspective, her first offering was "So you won't go to hell." That's easy--I don't have any faith that it exists, either.

Am I an atheist? I don't know. That requires thoughts. But I'm done trying to even think about "God." It's become ridiculous. That's the only word for it. V is in a place, with more progressive religious folk, of "If that's what you need in your life, if that works for you, so be it." I'm still stuck on the Why. For me, there is no good answer. And I'm okay with that.

Celebrate

V and I left her parents on Christmas Eve morning, and drove home. Yesterday was spent lying on the couch relaxing, cleaning the house, and watching a movie. It was the most un-Christmas-like day.

I've always wanted one of those - a holiday that I could just ignore - and now, having had one, I'm conflicted. Perhaps I like the family and the event and the festivities more than I realized. (Still not decorations, though. Those are pointless and time-consuming.) I'm glad we didn't have to mess with any of it yesterday, and we'd already celebrated with V's family over the weekend, but it was still strange.

The major perk for me, though, is that I can focus on my birthday tomorrow without being exhausted and overwhelmed from yesterday. My birthday has never felt so far away from Christmas, and I love it! It's like it's in its own special month, instead of slapped on after the biggest holiday of the year. How cool! (Yes, I'm jealous of the vast majority of the world who already has this perk.)

Happy almost-birthday to me. Now, with less Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Roles

I have a different role with the twins now, and I love it. I'm not sure what it is yet - part occasional babysitter, part adopted aunt, part...something.

V and I went over there the other night to drop off Christmas gifts. The kids were SO excited to see us: talking a mile a minute, over each other, jumping up and down, all over the place. Their mom even commented a few times how thrilled they were to see us.

It feels so much healthier. I want to see them now, knowing it'll make their day, knowing that will make mine. No more dreading seeing them. No more gunning up the courage to face a day of tantrums. No more tantrums, for that matter.

I still love those kids. I love them even more now that I'm in their life less.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Internal

Friday night, I watched Laura, Danielle, and Kali. The big girls are almost 5 now. Danielle wears a brace on one foot to sleep in, but I don't know how to put it on, and their mom hadn't mentioned it, so I was just going to skip it at bedtime. When she reminded me of it, I told Danielle, "I don't know how it goes, so I think you can just sleep without it for tonight."

Laura piped up, as she went and got the brace, "Well, you can just try."

I'm glad she's internalized that lesson. Don't accept "I can't" without trying. But...really? Though with the two of them talking me through it, we got it all set. Guess Laura was right after all.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Close

This year is quickly drawing to an end, which astounds me - and excites me, as I think 2013 is going to be fantastic. In reading over my posts from this past year, I see so much of the stress and frustration that culminated in me leaving the twins, but it still startled me when I realized it in October. It's been a wonderful decision, though it will take us a few more weeks to recover any sort of financial stability; watching them at the Christmas party last night, I felt so thrilled to be in their life and still "show them off," as it were, yet not responsible for their every day and every action.

2012 was the year of:
Patrick getting to wear sparkly pants (though I'm saddened by his mom's comment, last night, that he didn't want to get in his "fancy" (Christmas) clothes for the party, because he wanted to wear a skirt, and she said bows were fine but that was just too far) and other gender moments.
A less than successful first anniversary trip
A continuation of our wedding infamy
Free range nannying
Lots of learning how to parent
Struggling with depression still
Being gay and in love, and all that
Losing a family
The election
And, of course, saying goodbye to the twins

Obviously we still have a few more weeks, but I'm ready. 2013, hopefully the year of graduation and moving and incomes and friends and excitement.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Behave

The twins' parents' Christmas party is tonight, so I'm babysitting and V is bartending. Each year, the kids and I spend more time downstairs and less up in their room; I'm expect to be mostly mingling this year, until the kids get overwhelmed.

It's usually a fun experience, with lots of people complimenting me on the kids and how great they are. This year will obviously be a little different, as I'm no longer their primary nanny, but I'll still take the kudos.

Of course, I just remembered that their great-uncle (I think) is also usually in attendance. He's always at their birthday parties, but I think the Christmas party too. He's known for lines like "I'd always behave if I was out in public with you" and "If you were my nanny, I'd listen to every word you said."

FYI? That's not a compliment. That's a creepy, creepy statement.
Either he won't be there/won't say anything tonight, and my life will go on as normal, or he will, and I'll have something else for the memoir I'll eventually write. Silver linings and all that.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Twelfth

We're in the last month of the year now, so hard to believe. I'm not usually a fan of December. It has my birthday, which is sometimes good and sometimes too complicated to be worth it, and it has Christmas, which always seems too complicated to be worth it.

The weather's been beautiful, though; today's high is 70. Though it also rained this morning...which is why, going around a curve, the scooter and I ended up parallel to the road, instead of perpendicular like we're supposed to be. I'm fine, just a killer headache from smacking my helmet into the pavement. The scooter starts, but doesn't sound good, and isn't running right. Just what we need before Christmas.

Oh, and protip? Don't leave your job right before a holiday at the end of the month. Financial stress is nobody's best friend. It'll straighten out in the next week or two (well, that was the case before this morning's scooter spill; hopefully it still stands), but that doesn't mean I like where we are now.

So, happy December to you all, and may we make it to the new year with sanity and speed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Transit

Growing up, I was always in transit. A few days at my mom's house, then off to my dad's. A few days there, then back to my mom's. Repeat. Repeat. Thirteen years, repeat.

When I left for college, I reveled in the fact that I would be in the same place for the next four years. I'd have to juggle which family to visit when, but "home" would be one address, where I'd always come back to.

As V entered my life in a more and more permanent way, I began to see "home" as the place we were together, regardless of locale. That's a sweet sentiment, for sure--but it doesn't address the fact that there is still a very physical residence, or more than one, in my head.

We've been in this city for two and a half years, and we've loved it. It's been good to us, a place to test the waters of more urban living, a place full of kids and parks and museums and restaurants. But with V graduating in six months, we're starting to talk about our next place. I'm finding, to my great surprise, that I want there to be a next place.

Once I realized how much I loved it here, I decided I'd never move again. Move houses, sure, but as I came to know and love this city, I wanted to stay here. No more transit. No more learning curve. I'd finally feel settled, and know that nothing was going to uproot me in the future.

Except, apparently, now I want to uproot myself. V and I are starting to look for jobs for her, and in the process, we've inadvertently decided where we'd like to live. Still in the midwest, though a larger city, one where we already know people, and one that's always captured our imagination. The strangest thing is, I want this. I want to go.

I wonder if I've been "en route" so much of my life that it's how I function. I wonder if it's possible for me to settle into a place, really settle, and stay. It might be. But right now, that's not what I want. For the first time since I've been making these decisions for myself, I want to say goodbye to the kids and parks and museums and restaurants. I didn't think I'd want to--but I can't wait.

Perhaps it's just that I'm making the choice of my own volition (with V, of course, but she's an equal, not an authority). Perhaps I'm finally growing into myself, as an adult, as someone who directs her own life. Perhaps I will be always in transit, wife and kid(s) in tow, city-hopping. Nothing is inherently wrong with that. Nothing is inherently wrong in staying in this next city for twenty years, or ten, or two.

I don't know how long we'll be there. At this point, we don't even know if V will have a job, so we can't say for certain that we're moving. But wherever we go, I'm okay with the going. It's a strange feeling, though I'm not complaining.

I remember locking myself in my bedroom when I was twelve or thirteen, not wanting to go to my dad's, and my mother having to cajole me out. This time, I feel like I'm throwing myself at the car, eager for new adventures. Much of this comes from my newfound freedom, away from the kids...but more on that later.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

New

Tomorrow begins the new normal: me working from home, writing; Trina with the kids.
I already knew this was a good decision, but after coming back from our Thanksgiving trip without the sense of dread I usually have, it's been reaffirmed. I didn't realize how much of my not wanting to come home stress originated with work.

Now I get to stress over making enough between this writing job and odd babysitting, but that's a new stress, and, at the moment, it's not nearly as bad as the old one. I'm more anxious to hear how tomorrow goes with the kids. I just texted Trina telling her she could text me with any questions or concerns; I'm not admitting to myself how much I want to hear from her tomorrow.

As for our Thanksgiving trip, we visited my mom's side of the family. Everyone was there except my mom and stepdad and the kids--which made it perfect. My mom is the sole uber-religious member of that clan, so V and I spent our evenings drinking, playing bullshit, and swapping stories with my uncles, aunt, and older cousins. Add in good food, my grandparents putting us up in a hotel (which I think was their silent acknowledgement that they know, and it is okay), and only having to drive 5 hours each way, and it was pretty much perfect.

Now, I'm starting in on my Christmas card writing, hoping that if I get an early enough head start, when I inevitably burn out, it'll still be far enough out from Christmas that I can write the last few excruciatingly slowly.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Strange

It's strange, to watch someone else with your kids. To hear the different intonations, the patterns of speech, that you know the kids are so unfamiliar with, yet within a month will be as normal as mine.

It's strange, to hear someone say "Lilly, this is my serious face; I need you to listen to me," and watch Lilly stare, uncomprehending, because no one has ever said something like that to her.

It's strange, to explain daily life--here are the cups; here are the toothbrushes--as if it is all new and confusing, because it is.

It's strange, to know you're looking at a picture of the future, a future where you barely exist, a future where you hope the kids are thriving, a future you've inadvertently created.

It's strange, to say goodbye.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

New

Today was the beginning of transition, the much-dreaded day when all my anxiety over this mysterious new nanny who captured the twins' mom's heart would hopefully go away.

In short? I love her.
I tried to beat her to the house this morning, but failed; I walked in as she (let's call her Trina) was talking to the kids' dad. About how ridiculous it was that their mother made yet another excel spreadsheet for their care. Oh yes, we are going to get along.

Her daughter, who's a senior at a nearby college, has been with her girlfriend for two years. Naturally, Trina wanted to hear all about my relationship with V, my wedding, the works. She was thrilled. (She also loved the scooter, so more points to her.)

I was on the 80s station in the van, and AC/DC's "Shook Me All Night Long" came on. I muttered, "They don't need to learn this song quite yet," as I changed the station, which got a good laugh out of her. And then she said she needs to take V and I to an 80s/90s dance club the next state over.

She thinks the kids are the cutest things ever. Which they are, though she hasn't seen a tantrum yet. She thinks they're smart, well-mannered, and sweet, and she made it a point to tell me that it's because of me, in large part.

I think I'm going to like her. And it's much easier to leave the kids, knowing I like the hands they're being left in.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Feel

Monday, the kids were wonderful. We ran errands, ran around the mall, and had a fun, sweet time. We bought a few things to donate to the local hospital's NICU, per their mom's request, and the kids melted my heart by picking up rattles and teethers and saying "We should get this for the babies too!"

Yesterday, Tuesday, they were awful. I was in a mood, and they were in a mood, and I was so glad to be almost done. Counting down the hours until I left, when it was only three and a half hours to begin with.

Today, I told them I was going to start a new job, writing, and someone new would be taking care of them. They've met her, and she'll spend the next two days working with us; I tried to focus mostly on tomorrow and Friday. They'll have plenty of time to not have me around and adjust, but for now, let's just take it one day at a time, and talk about how we'll introduce her to our music teacher, and our preschool teachers, etc.

I'm not sure how much they got. Patrick leaned over and latched onto me at one point. When I dropped them at school, I filled their teacher in. She knelt down and told the kids, "How exciting, you'll have someone new to take care of you!" and both looked a little shell-shocked still.

It'll be rough. But I got the words out today, and that's a start.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Found

V just turned to me and said "You found your snooze!"

Yes, yes I have. That occurred to me a few days ago, but was brought home when this morning she said something that I misheard as "I wanna have a kid," and my response was "If you want a kid, you're on your own."

Words I never thought I'd say.

I do still want kids in our future. Very much. And probably not even that distant of a future. But for right now? I want to be able to go downtown to a Halloween party at 11pm on a whim. And I want to have carrots and peanut butter for dinner and not think about anyone's long-term nutrition.

The older I get, the younger I am. A friend told me, freshman year of college, that I acted like a forty year old woman. Now, six years later, I think I'm down to my late twenties or early thirties. And I'm enjoying it!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Babysit

I had the twins this evening. I've always said they behave better in the evening...and tonight I realized that evenings are when I'll always have them, now. Seven more work days, and then already two evenings in December, possibly more, and in 2013 too.

I had so much more patience tonight than I've had in weeks. I could redirect the kids, instead of aggravating the situation. I was the babysitter - so I didn't push them to eat all their dinner, or follow all the rules to a T.

And I loved them. Really truly enjoyed my evening with them, and playing memory, and going for a pajama walk with their baby dolls in little strollers, and getting hit by the giant ball they were playing with.

There's hope for the three of us yet. That gladdens me.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Normal

I've never wanted to be gay. I'm not one of those people who knew from childhood; it never crossed my mind. When V and I first decided to be together, I called myself a straight girl with a girlfriend. I didn't identify with the LGBT community, nor did I particularly want to. I felt forced into it - yes, I loved V, and no, it wasn't that I wanted her to be a boy, but...

In many ways, I'm still in that place. Having a friend visit last weekend, a childhood friend, a guy friend, brought all this back, hard. We ran a few errands together, and I couldn't get out of my brain the fact that people probably assumed we were together, had no problems with that, an, well, we looked normal.

Normal. That word is so tantalizing. V said it's why she wants to move: to be around more LGBT people, as well as couples. But for me, that doesn't change anything. I know I'm not normal. (Yes, I realize how that sounds. Bear with me.) My parents will never think I'm normal. The vast majority of people in the world will never think I'm normal.

Here's where I'm about to get even more ridiculous. After spending time with this good friend, it crashed into my head: I could've been normal. I brought this on myself.

Do I love my wife? Yes. But...

A friend wisely told me, "You'd be different. Loving V changed you." She knew me before I knew V, and watched our relationship come into existence. (V's response to that: "Yeah, you might have even voted for Romney.") And it's not that I don't want to love her. It's not even that I don't want to love girls. I just want to be with a boy, right now. Irrationally. Because...then I could be normal.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Replace

The twins' mom called me today, to tell me she thinks she's found my replacement. I'm so glad it's been a fairly easy search for her. The plan is to transition (both of us work together) next Thursday and Friday, perhaps a little on Monday too, and then for me to spend Tuesday the 20th, my last day with the kids, by myself.

My last day with the kids. I know this is the right decision. But...shit just got real.
Commence emotions?

Hooray

I, along with half of America, am breathing a sigh of relief. The problem with our politics is that the other half is furious, and that whole "a nation divided against itself" thing gets tricky.

But that's for another day. For today, I'm proud, and excited, and less stressed than I've been in awhile. I'm beyond happy for Maine and Maryland (and Minnesota too).

Congratulations, Mr. President. You deserve it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Finale

I feel like I have to apologize again for the disturbing level of quietness around these parts. I've been doing more thinking than writing, lately.

I've also decided to end my time with the twins.

I know there hasn't really been any warning; honestly, there wasn't for me, either. They went on vacation for a week, and I felt the least stressed I had in quite possibly years. I had to admit the only factor that had changed was them.

Like I said, lots of thinking went into this. I've already talked to their mom, we've briefly sketched an exit strategy (hopefully just before Thanksgiving, but with the potential for some in the first week of December as needed), she's interviewing people.

I told her to still contact me for evening events and/or when they need backup (new nanny gets sick, etc).

She's been supportive, even as she cried at our meeting. I appreciate that from her so much.

So now what? I've been doing some freelance writing (complicated to explain, but more reliable than it sounds, and with great potential to pay bills), and will continue to watch random children throughout the week.

I'm excited. I'm relieved. I'm still in a bit of shock, but the amount of peace I have over this decision reassures me, whenever I start to doubt.

It's been a crazy almost two and a half years.
(And yes, I will still write here. This isn't going anywhere anytime soon.)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Posted

I'm a day late in posting this, but my "Raised Evangelical" story went up over at Love, Joy, Feminism yesterday! Hello to anyone stopping by from there, and the first comment makes my heart happy.

In other news, there's a big announcement coming up, once I can figure out how to break the news.  And no, we're not pregnant. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Quiet

I know it's been quiet around here. Forgive me my silence, as I've been trying to help V get her big end-of-month internship assignment together, and find a dress for a 20s party I'm attending tomorrow, and juggle a pretty busy week and another one coming up next week.

I'm still here, and still reading. Just not as talkative as usual!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sports

Overheard today from Patrick:
"I got the ball in the basket! Strike two!"

I love their total lack of understanding of sports.

Seeing them today was interesting. I was definitely a fan of vacation, but we went over Rainbow Dash's house, and her mom and I kicked the kids into the downstairs playroom while we chatted. It was needed, after the crazy tantrums of the morning.

My favorite moment was when Patrick came upstairs and announced he had to poop, went into the bathroom, Lilly came up and said the same thing, he called me to wipe him, she went in and pooped, Rainbow Dash came upstairs and said the exact same thing, I wiped Lilly, and then Rainbow Dash went and I wiped her. All in the space of five minutes.

...hm. I'm not sure if I'm comfortable with the amusing moments of my day coming from preschoolers' rear ends.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Shoes

Kali has a thing for shoes. She just turned a year and a half, and it's been going on for a few months. It was one of her first common words, coming out in a high pitch, drawn out "shoooooz!"

Her favorite pair are these light pink knockoff crocs that her mother hates. But Kali thinks they are the shit, and wants them around, always.

I showed her mom the "Oh My God Shoes" video that made the college youtube rounds three or four years ago; it's inane, which is why I'm not linking it, but at the same time is strangely perfect for this child.

"Shoes. Shoes. Oh my god shoes. These shoes rule. These shoes suck. These shoes rule. These shoes suck. Shoes. Shoes. Oh my god shoes. Shoes."

...there's a reason I'm not linking it. But it plays in my head every time she squeals "shooooz!"

Kali, in her hideous shoooz, visiting the neighbor's horses

Monday, October 22, 2012

Observe

Vacation, day one. Lest I go through child-withdrawal, I opted to spend the morning observing V in action at her internship classroom. I've met the faculty and staff there once, when I helped out with a work day, but by my reception this morning, you would've thought I'd known them all for years. Big hugs, everyone excited to see me...

It was an awesome feeling to be introduced as V's wife. I talk more, and am more open about us, so I'm frequently introducing her as my wife, or introducing myself as her wife. But at her school, she's both awesomely comfortable and proud of me. And everyone is excited to meet the wife that they've heard her talk about!

The 3-6 room in a Montessori school is chaotic. It's a controlled chaos, mostly, but my stress level was definitely up at first, waiting for an explosion or collapse. (This may be due to spending every day with Lilly.) I chatted with the program director (awesome, unexpected opportunity) about intervening, and how the teachers really don't: she said if a child is harming themselves or others, or disturbing friends, the teachers will intervene, but they really try to let the child/children resolve it alone. I would love to do more of that with Patrick and Lilly, but since we aren't in a classroom with rules, there is less formality...and sometimes more hitting and pulling and biting.

The 6-9 room, which I was also able to see from the observation room, fascinated me. I wasn't familiar with the materials in it or what exactly the kids were doing, but there was something about it that drew me. I watched a wonderful eighty-something woman who learned from a direct disciple of Montessori, and who now comes in to work in the classroom every Monday, teach a lesson with farm animals that ranged from different prepositions to word forms to spatial relations. All in her Scottish accent.

It was a neat opportunity. Teaching isn't for me (too many kids!), but I like watching it happen successfully. I understand now why V comes home tired and worn out. I get why she says the group at work feels like a family. I can picture the kids, when she rants about this or that misbehavior. I'm more a part of her world, and that always makes me happy.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Potty

Patrick is an independent kid. Lilly is, too, but she's smaller; she physically can't be quite as on her own yet. She can't reach.

But Patrick is at that wonderful age where we can all walk into a bathroom, he can go in a stall by himself, come out with his pants up, usually reach the soap and sink (or we frequent places that have stools), and be all set.

He's four. Barely. I'm not going to send him into the men's bathroom by himself, not by a long shot.
But it is mildly frustrating that when he asks which door we're going in for a potty break, my response is always "this one, the girls' bathroom." (Being the boy he is, he doesn't care. But I do.)

Melissa's post about bathrooms, and particularly the first comment, brought all this to mind again. It's not an issue for us; he isn't the kid to pull some sort of "But I'm not a girl!" fit on me.

But why is it even necessary?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Real

I finally read the Can You Feel the Sex Tonight post that I've been seeing referenced, and all I can say to it is, yes.

My Gay Lifestyle is most commonly, V sitting at the table, writing one of the thousands of things she has to for school, or editing pictures, while I stare at the pantry in the kitchen and try to figure out what combination of things I can call dinner.

Or it's watching the Colbert Report on her laptop, snuggled on the couch, while I do a crossword puzzle.

Sometimes it's both of us trying to keep Latke from eating all the other cats' food, rolling our eyes at our little chubby ginger kitty.

It's me coming home from work, ranting about Lilly's latest tantrum, and her bringing me some hummus and chips.

There are times I nag her about the litterboxes. There are moments I put off doing the dishes.

On occasion, we have really, really, really great sex.

So why is it that last part that is all people can think of? One of my brothers and his wife give us such awkward looks every time we're around; I swear, all they can think of is "gay sex." But I remember being there. (Though, to be fair, I just thought about sex a lot: I had the same sort of thoughts about all the straight couples I knew.)

Trust me- I'd love it if my life included as much crazy gay sex as people seem to think we queer folk have. It would be pretty awesome. It also is completely impossible, and completely unrealistic.

Do you spend all your time going at it with your significant other, while also scoping out everyone else, while also plotting the downfall of civilization via sexualization? No? Then why do you think I would?

My favorite quote in that post was about "ignoring 99% of someone’s relationship in order to focus on the 1% we have a conflict over." I think one of the things that has helped V's mom start to relate is realizing that she can, well, relate. The more we talk about the mundane: work, school, cats, cleaning, car maintenance, dish soap, Ikea rugs... the more she seems to get that those are the things that make up our life. The vast majority of our life has nothing to do with us being naked (well, unless it's the middle of summer, and I'm still too cheap to turn the air on).

I'm too busy trying to keep the cat from overeating.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Blended

Today, V and I shot a wedding. It was tiny, at a local park, and we prefaced it with a family shoot of the couple and their kids: him, his two daughters, her, her two sons.

They already are such a family. The kids interact amazingly, and the two little girls kept running to stand over by their new stepmom.

It's such a contrast to my childhood. I wasn't able to be present at my dad's second wedding; to this day, our family is split. I am his child, and my stepbrothers are my stepmom's. I'm not correlating my absence at the wedding to that, but still.

After the vows, before the end of the ceremony, the parents and their four children held hands. Then the dad fetched four little boxes; dogtag necklaces for the boys, silver heart boxes for the girls.

I teared up. It's not that I wish my family had done things differently. I honestly think I'm done caring about that. But watching this beautiful picture - literally, because I've seen them on V's computer, the fall leaves in the background - made my heart happy.

This is a family who will make it. Today I saw a man who loves his sons as well as his daughters, and a woman who loves her daughters as well as her sons.

And it was a beautiful picture.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Polite

I was at the playground with Patrick and Lilly on Monday, waiting for Rainbow Dash to show up. A lady walked by, walking a dog.

Lady: Hello!
Me: Hi.
Lady, staring at the twins: Don't you say hi?
Me, irked: Sometimes we're shy.
Lady: You don't have to be shy. You can just say hello!

I ignored her, and she kept walking. But really? This is in the same category as ruffling a strange toddler's hair. Just because they're smaller than us does not mean children always want to be touched, spoken to, or forced to interact.

I believe very strongly in manners. I also believe very strongly in autonomy. If someone is giving the kids something, I expect them to say thank you. If someone is walking by, I don't expect them to necessarily engage in conversation.

We haven't had any sort of stranger-danger or don't talk to strangers conversation, but this plays into that as well. I want my kids to be friendly, but if they aren't comfortable saying hello to a random person walking by, more power to them. Which, in fact, is frequently what preschoolers need. More power.

Keep your mouths closed, kids. I got your back.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Joined

I forgot to mention that I would be away this past weekend, celebrating a friend's wedding. A good friend of ours, and in many ways our "lesbian mentor," one of the eleven who attended our wedding, had met, fell in love with, become engaged to, and now married an awesome girl, all in the past year and a half since we last saw her at our wedding. It was wonderful to meet her wife, spend time with them, and see a few college friends. And meet more! As a girl we had breakfast with this morning said, "I love meeting people from [our college] like you guys. People who don't seem like they went there." So true. Somehow we managed to spend a large chunk of the wedding hanging out with this girl, who graduated two years ahead of us, without ever learning that she's a teaching assistant at a Montessori school where she lives. Thank you, Facebook, for cluing us in on that part. And she might come visit! I've missed having people stay with us.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Debate

The presidential debate is raising my blood pressure, I'm pretty sure.

Neither candidate is coming across so hot.
However, one of the candidates is the reason that
  • I have health insurance;
  • I could, if I wanted, serve in the military without fear;
  • if I were raped, heaven forbid, I would not have to worry about carrying a child;
  • there is a hope for my marriage to be recognized beyond a handful of states;
  • my religious views or lack thereof aren't something under attack;
  • and I can (sometimes) sleep at night.
Nothing in these debates will change that, for me.
But I will sleep even better a month from now.
Hopefully.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Reason

The real reason I do childcare:

Lilly, as she's blowing soapy water through a straw to make bubbles: Wow! I am such a good blower!

Patrick, pulling his shirt up: Sissy, have my boobies gotten bigger yet?

Oh yes. I'm just there for the cheap laughs.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Quatre

It's not often that I can post pictures of the twins, since I don't want to show faces or too much identification. But in honor of them turning FOUR, I'm going to do what I can. I remember their second birthday. I had no idea I'd be around for their fourth. We spent it watching a show (a big treat), buying balloons, and playing with friends (who insisted on finding cookies and singing happy birthday). Tomorrow, we take cupcakes to preschool.

One of the first pictures I ever took of them. They're so young!






This past summer, at the zoo.
Doing some water activities I set up for them.
These kids make my world so much better, when they aren't leaving me stomping down the stairs being screamed at. And there is so much more of the former than the latter. They've grown so much; it amazes me what two years can do. They are funny, smart, beautiful, frustrating, and altogether heart-stealing.

Boy

Last week, Offbeat Mama ran a piece entitled My Son the Cross-Dresser. The article was fascinating and familiar. I've written before about Patrick's bow-wearing tendencies and love of "girl" things; he takes full advantage of having a sister with princess goodies and pink things. Lately, they get into dress-up, and he takes a blue pair of those awful plastic dress-up heels and clunks all over the house. I'm still not sure I've seen Lilly even put any on.

Apparently, when the family went to a picnic a few months ago, with the twins' group they are members of, he caused quite a stir by wearing a bow in his hair. I know this because Laura and Danielle's family went as well, and their mom commented on how cool it is that Patrick's  dad really doesn't mind.

Today, for their birthday, I took them to go get balloons. Lilly picked out a clear one with flowers and a bird. Patrick gravitated straight for the Disney princesses. So I bought it for him, and he latched onto it for the rest of the day.

I love my boy. I love his flexibility, even though he doesn't know it yet. I love his zest for life and adoration of all things sparkly. He makes me smile.

Dress-up in action

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Continuum

Way back in the beginning of this blog, I discussed my thoughts on the term 'lesbian' and how I was uncomfortable with summing myself up that way in my blog tagline. I'm certainly more accustomed to it now, though it still doesn't reflect me 100% - though I doubt anything that could fit in a tagline could ever fully portray an individual.

That said, I'm content with it. It's a nice, brief summary of the ideas about which I write. Where it makes me laugh, though, is the fact that I'm not really a lesbian. Not in the "only and ever girls" sense. I rely heavily on the Kinsey scale and the idea of a continuum of sexuality (and yes, I know there are much better links than wikipedia, but that's all I have energy for).

How does this tie into childcare? A Monday afternoon playgroup has formed, somewhat by accident, consisting of Laura and Danielle, their friend and her younger brother, Rainbow Dash, and Patrick and Lilly. The three moms and I were chatting while the kids played, and we ended up on the topic of what's attractive in guys. I could honestly take part in that conversation, thinking back to high school, thinking of even now what I think is cute.

Yes, I take pride in my wife. I love who I've become because of her. But sometimes, it's nice to have a "normal" conversation, and I'm glad for my continuum, and knowing that it's okay to think about guys, about girls, about whomever, without having to have a crisis on whether that actually means I'm bi, or if I'm being true to my sudden lesbian heritage, or anything like that.

Besides, then I get in on great conversations with lines like this from Laura and Danielle's mom- "I told him [now-husband] that I almost didn't date him because he's short. He said that's fine, because he almost didn't date me because I was a bitch."

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Loss

Seth and Isabella, whom I've known for two years, are moving sometime in the next few months. Their mom told me when I was over there on Thursday; I didn't cry, but boy did that put a damper on my life.  She's been one of my closer mom-friends, and the kids are awesome--exhausting, but awesome. Their dad has a wonderful job offer, so they're taking it for a few years, and then hopefully will come back (though who knows if we'll be here by then).

Seth was 3 when I first met him; now he's in kindergarten, reading, and will play Sorry! or Trouble endlessly.
Isabella was 1; now she has a big-girl bed, is in her second year of preschool, and loves Star Wars just like her brother.

I have so many memories with the whole family. They were the first people to get us a wedding present, and their mom and I have had so many wonderful conversations. The kids sing, all the time. They're adorable and super smart. And, of course, they're the source of what is still my favorite kid story to tell.

I'm going to miss the hell out of them.

Extravaganza

Patrick, nine days away from turning four
Lilly, nine days away from turning four
Bug, three and a half
Andrew, twenty months

One ball pit, approximately three by five
The older three, in one bathtub, approximately two by four
Bug: "I'm going to tell mommy I have new friends!"

Last night was utterly exhausting. And so much fun.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Excuses

1. My sinuses have been giving me hell all week, and it keeps getting worse.
2. It's been one of the busier weeks in recent history, and culminates in an overnight this weekend with extra kids added in.
3. I'm exhausted (see 1 and 2).
4. I got some sad news that I need to share in the next day or two.
5. I've been running late to work every day, and don't seem to have time after work either.

But still, I will have an honest-to-goodness updates here soon. Sad news to share, and then four-year-old's thoughts on dying and heaven.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Decade

Lilly gave me a nice little preview today of what she'll be like ten years from now. She had a pretend phone, and was making a frustrated "ugh!" noise.
"Ugh, my mom is texting me again!"

Yep, I can see her now, at fourteen, saying the exact same thing, with the exact same intonation.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Update

It's strange for me to not have updated for five days. V and I had a friend visiting, so we've been eating at all sorts of delicious local restaurants and poking into shops downtown.

I pulled out a fall shirt to wear today, which I haven't worn in months (obviously), and I'm wondering if something on it irritated me. I have small bumps on my back which are burning; I took a benadryl, so now I'm exhausted. Plus I have what I think is a sinus headache?

Not an auspicious start to a week that's shaping up to be as busy as last week. But it seems like, if we can make it to next Sunday, life will settle down. Just too many deadlines between now and then.

I'm going to go find the face of the earth so I can drop off it again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Baby

I'm watching Kali, now seventeen months, imitate V's downward dog, and then drag a plastic golf club across the floor.

She's stacking cups and knocking them down.

She's pouring water from one cup to another in the bathtub, grinning at me, and then dumping it on herself.

"MaMA, and DaDDY!"

Now V is balancing her on one knee while they point to pictures of family members and say their names.

I'm in love with this baby, still.
I'm in love with this wife, still.

Little substance here, today. Just me watching, loving, and smelling the baby shampoo on my fingers.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lost

V and I went hiking yesterday, first time in a long time. We set out on a well-marked, three mile loop in a nearby state park, and about two and a half hours later, had been thoroughly lost, surrounded by no markings, and broke out of the woods onto a road.

We recognized the road, thankfully; we'd driven it on our way to the park. It wasn't very close to the park entrance, either. To be exact, it was four and a half miles from where our car was parked.

We were very tired. We are still incredibly sore. I will not have the desire to hike for a long, long time.

You know what's nice, though? Not extrapolating Christian metaphors out of the experience. No "we chose our own path" or "God never said the road would be easy but he promised us rest" or "relying on him will always bring us home eventually."

Nope, just we got &#*@ lost on a poorly-marked trail and are never *#^%$ going hiking again.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Silent

When I dropped the kids off at preschool on Tuesday, their mom met us there, so I hung back.
Yesterday, it was all me.

We walked in, I helped them hang up their backpacks, asked them what they were going to start playing with, and then hugged and kissed each one.

As I turned to Patrick, after hugging Lilly, I noticed her turn her back to me. After I hugged him and stood up, I saw that she'd shoved her fists into her eyes, her face bright red, tears dotting her cheeks.

Break my heart.
I know they'll come to enjoy it, but that moment still sliced right through me. Patrick walked into that classroom like he was walking to his execution. Lilly wouldn't cry and carry on - she probably knows she'd get nothing that way - so she took her little almost-four-year-old pain and sorrow and tried to hide.

Break my heart.
Next week will be better.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ponyfriends

Apparently the first day of preschool went "okay" according to the kids. They aren't all that excited to return tomorrow, but I'm sure in a week or two, they'll be friends with the kids in their class, and I'll get a break from "Can we play with Laura and Danielle today?"

If it's not Laura and Danielle, it's Rainbow Dash - their newest friend. And yes, Rainbow Dash is what she calls herself. She's three and a half, and she and her mom (Pinkie Pie) and her little brother, who's nine months (I can't remember his nickname; their dad is Applejack) have been hanging out with us. RD had a gymnastics class with the kids, and now we go to parks, the children's museum, and playdates at her house (she has a pool!).

Her mom is a lot of fun: swears (around the baby, but not the daughter), rants, laughs, and generally is entertaining to hang out with. And - the exact opposite of Patrick and Lilly's parents - she really just accepts germs and dirt, and knows her kids aren't going to die. It's a relief.

We spent three hours at the children's museum today with them, and we're all going to the wonderful new playground/splash area downtown on Friday.

It'll give the kids something to look forward to, during the long dark hours (all two of them) of preschool tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Away

At the risk of harping on a dead horse (like how I combined metaphors there?), I have to share an image from today.

I got the kids up, got them dressed in the clothes their mom had picked out for their first day of school, fed them breakfast, dealt with Lilly's tantrum, did puzzles, played games, washed their dishes, made their lunch, fed them lunch, got them into the van on time, parked at preschool...

...where they hopped out of the van, ran into mommy's arms, and she walked them into school. I was right behind them, but still.

One day, I'll be able to do this on my own. This isn't my time.
I know this.
I'm okay, truly. The image just struck me, a little painfully.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Names

V and I looked through my baby name book last night, just for fun. Boys' names are hard to come up with! Well, ones we like, anyway. V's brother already claimed an old family name that I don't mind, so that's out, as we don't want cousins with the same name.

Speaking of names, congrats to A and T on the arrival of Everleigh Jane! Best of luck in new-mommy-land, both of you.

Me, I guess I'll just stick to naming cats. Adorably, V's last name starts with L, so we now have the super cute "Little Lottie L---" running around. She hasn't learned her name yet; we'll see if she learns Lottie, Latke, or Ginger first. Right now she's busy tearing up our rug.

V and I stayed in the house for about 46 hours straight over this past weekend. It felt heavenly.

Patrick and Lilly start preschool tomorrow!!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Goings-on

Lately...
  • Patrick, Lilly, and I met their parents at the preschool the twins will be starting at, and we met the teachers, saw the room, and generally got a little more comfortable. I'm interested to see how they do once we leave them, but they're pretty okay so far.
  • V and I took our first "pole fitness" class. Yes, it was fitness, but the name still makes me laugh. Stripper classes, here I come! It was fun, though. My shoulders hurt.
  • We're going to the Renaissance Faire tomorrow, even though there's an 80% chance of rain. We'll be wet wenches, I suppose.
  • I'm trying to find something to do (that pays) on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday afternoons, since I will now be done work by 12:30. Hope that works out, as...we kinda need it to.
  • My new favorite phrase is "electric asteroid full of tigers," thanks to Sierra. There's actually serious commentary behind it: go read her take on gender martyrdom.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Two

I just happened to realize it was August (well, not for the first time in the past four weeks), and checked the date of my first post: August 28, 2010. Quelle coincidence.

Happy anniversary to me! I've definitely slacked off this year, but I think that's okay. I'm still yammering away, anyway.

Glad you're all here with me, whoever "you all" happens to encompass!

Location

I feel like most parents are generally concerned about knowing where their child is at all times. I definitely like to know the vicinity in which Patrick and Lilly are playing, but what I find more important is knowing that they know my location.

If we get separated, I have a lot more tools at my disposal to find them, then they do to find me. Being more than three feet tall, for instance, and not consistently walking into people (cough-Lilly-cough).

We went to the children's museum today, and I generally let them have the run of the place - though they always stick in one area at a time, and we all move on together (mutual unspoken agreement, I guess). When we got to a new area (the balls, the kids' town, the water), I would pick a spot to sit down, and verbalize to them, "I'm going to sit right here." They may then get out of my sight, but they know where to find me.

I do the same thing at a playground. We all walk over to a table or bench or something remotely comfortable, I set my things down, tell the kids that's where I'll be, and then they run off and play. It lets me not freak out when I can't see them. It gives them assurance that they can get to me whenever they need to.

Think about it: adults seem to always know where kids are, but the kids don't necessarily have that same assurance. I'd hate to be a kid and have to hunt around, even a little bit. My two just backtrack to where they left me, and I'm sitting right there, doing a crossword puzzle or something.

It lets me feel secure about them, and relax in peace. Win!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Pictures

It's not often that I can post pictures, but I just loaded the ones from my (very not smart-) phone onto the computer, and I take a lot of pictures of the kids from the back. So, enjoy a few!

Patrick feeding the ducks
Me getting astronomically better at braiding Lilly's hair
One of my favorites. L-R: Danielle, Lilly, Laura
And for bonus fun, what happens when you bring home a random dollhouse to paint...

Calcifer (in it) and Mei Mei (skulking by)
Lottie (sorry for the sideways)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Break

Lately, I've been in conversations with two good friends of mine, each of whom is concerned about their marriages (to other people, not each other). One wants desperately to fix what's broken and try again. One wants the freedom that comes with being alone. Both are heart-wrenching in their own ways.

V and I have a good thing going. Honestly, I don't know how. Part of it is that she can be an angel (and also sometimes a doormat, which I have to warn her against). Part of it is that we learned early on how to communicate. We were born in a fire, of secrecy and risk and other lovers and more external pressure than anyone should have. It's a near miracle we made it through; now, it's become the foundation that we know we won't break.

Some people are made for monogamy. Some for more open relationships. Some for partner-less-ness. All of that is fine. It just hurts to watch the growing pains of people finding what they need. Of people accidentally getting hurt in the process. Of people not knowing how to communicate, and digging their hole deeper.

I never want to stop appreciating what I have. Appreciating the emails that start, "I don't really want to tell you this, but..." Appreciating the trust that enables me to say, "I'm broken, again, for the millionth time, and I need you." Appreciating that I can tell her, "I'm a mess; get out of here and save yourself," and her response is to roll her eyes and say, "You've tried that before. It didn't work. I'm still here."

To those out there who are struggling: My heart hurts for you. I'm so sorry for the difficulties in life. I want to help.
To those out there who are on surer footing: Never stop being grateful. What you have is a gift.

Friends

Real thoughts are coming later, but for now, I present you with Children who Want to Play with Their Friends:

Tuesday...
Lilly: Can we go play with Laura and Danielle?
Me: No, because you both have a cold. You're doing a lot of coughing and sneezing, and we don't want to get them sick.
Patrick: I think I'm going to be all done coughing now.

Yesterday...
Patrick: Can Laura and Danielle come with us to the nature center?
Me: I asked their mom, but Laura had a little fever yesterday. She got a tiny bit sick.
Patrick: Well...she could just sit on a bench.
Me: That doesn't sound very fun for her.
Patrick: Um, she could sit on your lap?

Points for persistence, kids, but sorry. Maybe next week.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Busy

Thursday to the zoo
Friday to V's parents
Saturday to where my cousin's wedding was
Sunday at the wedding and back to V's parents
Tomorrow, driving home

It's been good, though. My extended family has been lots of fun; it's been probably five years since I've seen most of them. A small phone conversation, while we were trying to meet up with some cousins for dinner, involved the line: "Well, there's six irresponsible 30-somethings in a Yaris, who've been drinking for a few hours."

That was a slight exaggeration, but yes. It was quite a fun evening. The wedding today was busy and chaotic and enjoyable and high-energy. Bride and groom looked great, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, and V did an awesome job catching it all on film. (Metaphorical film. It's a DSLR.)

And my family never batted an eye. Sure, I know most of them do disagree with us, but everyone was friendly, and welcoming, and excited to see both of us.

Plus, I got to corral people for pictures, which means I got to play wedding coordinator, which I love!
(Now to get home tomorrow and return to normal (also busy) life on Tuesday.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Balance

Things are evening out better now.

My new mantra is "they aren't my kids, they aren't my kids."
Their parents absurdly want them home by 2, when they don't go to sleep then, and nap shifts to after 3 in a few weeks? Fine.
They're on a ridiculous sleep cycle that I don't think is healthy for them? Fine.
Their birthday party is a day when their parents know I'm out of town? Fine.

I have to care for them within the constraints. It doesn't matter if I think the constraints are a piece of shit. They aren't my kids. I can do things differently; nothing is going on that's endangering their lives.

Somehow, I've managed to scale myself back emotionally. I'm still finding a balance between shutting down entirely, and where I was. I easily cut out emotionally, especially when I know I'm going to lose something/someone in the future. But I think, in this instance, I might be handling it more neutrally.

I love those kids. But I'm stealing a little bit of my heart back, because they'd run off with too much of it.

Stay tuned.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Departure

Locks

I'm trying to do a locked post, for the first time.
Email me for the password: findingsnooze@gmail.com
(Or, for those that know me, facebook or texting works too.)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Productivity

Sundays have turned into our lazy, clean the house, don't leave the house days.
That's so much nicer than when they were church days. (V and I have both commented on how Sunday mornings were always the worst growing up, with everyone in terrible moods and rushing around and fighting.)

Baby Paisley, who is almost 2 now, has a new brother! That means I have an excuse to go baby shopping, just a bit.

V and I are both avoiding the litter boxes. The rest of the to-do list is coming along nicely, though. I really want to reorganize the craft room, but it has to wait until we're done the real stuff. Like litter.

Oh, and my puzzle. Of course it's not on the list, but that doesn't mean I'm not thinking about it! I love puzzles.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Lies

Patrick lied to me today, deliberately, for the first time. We were at the playground with friends, and he bumped into baby Kali. (I still call her a baby. She's 16 months old.) I asked him if he did (I'd just seen him run by, and then her fall), and he refused to answer. When I pressed him, he finally, slowly, said "No."

I asked Kali's mother, who'd had a clear line of sight. Oh yes he did.

We had a long talk about how if he'd just said yes, I would've asked him to apologize, and that would be the end of it. But now, since he didn't tell me the truth, he had to sit time out while the rest of his friends played.

He was unhappy. Of course, so was I!

In random cute news, as we were going to their last nature class on Wednesday, Patrick asked why it was the last one. Lilly put on her best "oh dummy" voice, though unintentionally, I think, and said, "Because, we're going to start preschool." Yes, yes you are.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Silence

I haven't been posting much, I know. It's been a stressful week with Patrick and Lilly's parents, as I'm trying to get two days off, and they're less than thrilled. Aside from my wedding, honeymoon, and anniversary, I'm not sure I've asked for more than two or three days off in the two years I've been working for them.

Plus, there are a lot of double standards, where they want me to get the kids home by 2, which is their technical naptime, but their mom has no problem signing them up for classes that run until 2:30 and we aren't home until 3. So she can fuck with their schedule, but I can't stay late at a playdate where the kids are having fun?

It's really frustrating. So naturally, I don't feel like sitting and writing about it. Even though I just have.

V starts her internship this week. Next weekend, we're off to visit her parents briefly and then go to my cousin's wedding, given that I think I finally actually have Friday and Monday off.

I should probably not be sitting and brooding this much, and I should be writing instead. What do you all want me to talk about, hm? Toss me some questions to get my brain somewhere else!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Week

Confession: dancing on Friday night was a lot of fun.

The whole weekend was wonderful. We ordered room service for breakfast yesterday, a first for both of us. Dinner last night and lunch today were both amazing meals. Everything we did was just awesome.

I managed to not even think about money the whole weekend. Yes, we probably spent more than we should've, but somehow I pushed the stress away and simply enjoyed the weekend.

So far I feel rejuvenated, instead of the vacation crash that I frequently get. We're home now. Back with our (three!) kitties. Back to work tomorrow, while V finishes editing photoshoots, writes for her last summer class, and gets ready to start her internship.

I think I can do this week ahead. I feel rested. Fancy king-size beds will do that to you!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Nervous

We're heading off for the weekend on V's birthday trip. I'm so looking forward to staying in a hotel, going out to eat, watching too much TV, and, oh yeah, she wants to go dancing tomorrow.

As I told Seth and Isabella's mom earlier today, "Can't I just watch?" V looks killer when she dances. I... prefer to stay on the sidelines.

She either needs to bring the pregame hard, or something. I'm nervous.

The rest of the weekend should be great! And I'm glad we'll be able to spend quality time with each other, and not think (too much) about master's theses or photo editing or damn cats.

But I should pack at some point. What on earth am I going to wear to a club?!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sneaky

I found out yesterday that the twins' mom wants to schedule their birthday party for October 6. V and I are out of town that day at a friend's wedding. I'm crushed.

They're having a gymnastics party... So I maaay have mentioned to their gym teacher this morning that if someone else happened to book the 6th, that would be awesome. We'll see.

I just can't miss their party. I can't!

Both of them told me today that they want cakes with lots of color princesses on top. I'm curious to see how that one plays out.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pounced

Somebody pounced her way into our lives two weeks ago. Not a tiger, though I wish, but someone equally as cute. V and I were taking a walk, and a tiny, affectionate, starving kitten demanded our attention and pets. She came home with us, to at least reevaluate and contact some friends, but as it pans out, we're keeping her. Her name is most likely Latke, though frequently Lottie. (Abridged version: I was calling her tater tot; V was calling her cupcake and muffin. We settled on potato pancake.)

Calcifer likes to chase her, which she's totally fine with. Mei Mei has been miss hissy fit, but she's getting better. And Lottie is charming the pants off of us. Her tail fluffs when she plays! She's probably about 7 months old, and much less starving already. We meant to stop at two cats...


Bug

I accidentally made a new "friend" yesterday morning: salmonella. And then we had a photoshoot yesterday evening with three boys under 4, which "conveniently" coincided with the time my new friend decided I needed to use the restroom for obscene amounts of time. And then a shoot this morning with two boys under 4. I'm exhausted.

I've been doing a lot of lying on the couch, eating soup and jello. V has been amazing, doing the dishes, making soup, editing pictures. I'm so glad we're going away for her birthday this weekend; she needs it.

At the moment, her computer isn't cooperating (the one with photoshop, that we make a chunk of our living off of), I'm totally wiped out, and life looks like it might be heading downhill for a bit. This was not in the plans.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Room

I have today off, because the kids are out of town visiting their dad's extended family. So, instead of photography and homework and litterboxes, V and I rearranged our entire living room (/dining room). It looks kick-ass.

Because that's what a real day off is, right? Not what needs to be done, but what begs to be done, when we're sitting on the couch on our computers, looking around, unhappy.

We're very happy now.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

PDA

In a way, this article on Salon goes along with my recent post on "claiming" my gay-ness in public. I can relate to most of the sentences in Christopher Records's piece, and I hate that. I'm generally the (much) more comfortable one, but that doesn't mean I don't think about these things.

Great relationship, not-so-great-but-totally-understandable paranoia. C'est la vie.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Happy

"Would you like to wake up every morning with happy, positive thoughts?"
So asketh the Jehovah's Witness tract we found on our front porch.

"I'm in-right, out-right, up-right, down-right happy all the time!"
So sangeth the wee children's church kids, myself included.

Is it any wonder, then, that depression was the unnameable? It wasn't just that I was taught to "pray through it"; it went more to the core. Depression was a failure of God in my life, and therefore, unacceptable. Not that I ever actually spoke the word, or admitted to myself that it was what I was struggling with...but I still knew how to "deal with" depression. Pray it away. Be happy all the time.

A few weeks ago, I read an article on happy being the only acceptable emotion. The context was contrasting attachment parenting, where children are generally allowed to express themselves, with hyper-conservative parenting that frequently results in children too terrified (of being spanked, frequently) to show any emotion that isn't positive.

I definitely wasn't raised in that latter camp. But the same mentality showed up in my children's church, and is still being heralded as the cure-all that Jesus will bring. "I've been set free; he has made my life wonderful" was an unspoken refrain of my growing-up years. There wasn't a category for depression. The answer was always: Jesus.

No, Jehovah's Witnesses whom I'm glad we weren't home to have to deal with. Dialoguing with you, or more, attending the conference with "a live play" that you want me to, will not make me wake up happy every morning.

"Since Jesus Christ came in, and cleansed my heart from sin, I'm in-right, out-right..." That one didn't work either.

And you know what? It's okay. Because at least it isn't fake.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Refresh

Few things are as healing - even when I didn't know I needed to be healed - as spending time with fellow LGBT-ers, ranting about conservative family, and then being at a housewarming party where someone refers to V and I as his "absolute favorite lesbians, which means you rank even higher than Rachel Maddow."

This weekend away feels so wonderfully refreshing. I'm almost in shock.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Claim

Growing up, I heard a lot of "If you were at gunpoint, would you stand for Jesus or would you renounce him?" We all pledged that we would be like the missionaries and high schoolers who chose death over denunciation. We were told that we would never know unless the moment happened, though.

I still think about this a lot. The thing is, though, my brain has replaced "Jesus" with "wife." We live in a decently liberal city in a conservative state; I still live on edge sometimes about being gay. The scenarios in my head aren't usually life or death, but it's the same principle. If a police officer stops me for speeding and asks where I'm going, do I mention I'm on my way to pick up my wife? To the wrong person, that could be me asking for trouble.

It frequently occurs to me, since I love to be so vocal about having a wife, that I could be asking for my food to be spit in, or my speeding ticket marked up to the next price bracket, or, more casually but still hurtfully, would-be friends and acquaintances to walk away. It's always a risk.

I read once, I don't remember where, about how for LGBT people, holding hands on the sidewalk is never just that. It's so true; it's true of so much more than holding hands. One word could change anything and everything.

Despite all the stress, I'm glad the word isn't "Jesus" anymore, though. I'll take my wife, any day.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Roulette

I'm in the middle of Jessica Valenti's fabulous book The Purity Myth, and so much of what she talks about, especially in regards to abstinence education, rings familiar. Being homeschooled, I never went through a formal sex-ed class, but as she's talking about the metaphors and catchphrases, I know it.

"Relying on condoms is like playing Russian roulette."
Yes. V actually had a conversation with an old boyfriend, talking about sex, where she said something about not risking the consequences. Of course I'd wear a condom, he said. I know, she said. That doesn't matter.

"Stephanie and Drew want to save sex for marriage. Stephanie is super affectionate and dresses in tight clothing; Drew is finding it harder and harder to wait."
Yep, sorry Steph, but it's all your fault. All your responsibility, too. Stop looking like such a slut, and maybe he'll be able to honor your mutual promise to wait.

"If I take this velcro and stick it to to everything, pretty soon it will lose its stickiness, and it won't be able to cling when it finds the other half of the velcro."
Evangelicals don't often go for subtlety, I must say. Also, it sucks to find out that my self-worth and sexuality is on par with a fairly unreliable method of adhesion.

I hate that it's all so familiar. I hate that so many people could say the same thing. I hate that so many more don't see anything wrong with that.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fundamentals

Every now and then, I run into an issue where the twins' mom and I are just coming from totally different angles. It happened last night, and I'm trying to figure out how to operate within her parameters, while still sticking to what I believe.

The issue is supervision. Last week, the kids played downstairs for an hour together, without fighting. I was near the top of the stairs and could always hear them, but they only came up once or twice to get me.

Yesterday, they played with Laura and Danielle, back in the latter's playroom, for an hour. Every now and then I heard giggling, talking about how they were having a party, or other chatter, but they never came out and never seemed to have a problem.

I'd mentioned both of those things to Patrick and Lilly's mom, and last night she sent me a text (or rather 6) about how she expects that I'm with them almost all the time, and she and her husband don't leave them unsupervised, and they're only 3, and she understands fostering independence, but...

And I had one of those moments of realizing we operate from different original mindsets. For me, I want the kids to be able to do their own thing. I see it as progress that they can play by themselves. I hear times when usually one would look at me to solve the issue, but instead I hear them figure it out. It especially makes me happy when they can play with friends for such a long time. I feel like I do so much hovering, because yes, I interact with them lots during the day, but I also always try to push them to entertain themselves.

My theory is that their mom doesn't spend as much time with them, so she's very involved and very much entertaining them. I support that - but I wish she also had the perspective that one day, she's going to want them to be able to go off and do their own thing! (She doesn't even know I've let them out in the backyard and I've stayed inside. I don't know what her reaction would be to that one.)

Anyway, it's frustrating. I promised her I'd be more on top of them, and I will, but I'll also just learn to edit my notes to her. I want to respect her parenting; I also want her kids to grow up with a sense of independence.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lazy

This weekend has been good for me. We've done next to nothing: V is in between summer sessions, the dishes are in the sink, the drying rack upstairs is still full. I've laid on the couch, fighting PMS cramping, reading about the ingredients in a twinkie.

We let a friend's dog out this afternoon, and stayed at their house watching TV for awhile. Serenity was on; I haven't actually watched the movie in years (it's non-canon. bad things happen. i deny it.), but it was good to see all the old friends. I probably annoyed V by quoting lines a few seconds before the character.

I'm still in emotional recovery. V and I have been brainstorming about ways to get me out of it. I just feel deeper than usual...in a way, I feel like I did before ever starting on meds, and that's a Bad Sign. That sort of vague "meh" feeling about life, punctuated by occasional bursts of light.

Next weekend, we are off to visit friends. It's a much needed trip. It can't come soon enough. Of course, once we're there, I'll probably want nothing more than to be home. Damn me.

Well, this wasn't supposed to end on a sour note. Welcome to my sucky state of mental health? Sorry for the unintended tour of my brain.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Alone

Patrick and Lilly played downstairs today, with their art stuff, for an hour and a quarter, by themselves, without needing me or fighting! The kitchen is at the top of the stairs, so I could hear them; my favorite was Lilly exclaiming "That looks fantastic!" Patrick came up once to ask for a piece of tape, and occasionally they'd yell up to me or I'd yell down to them. But overall, it was peace. I can't believe they got along that well for that long.

Maybe they're finally growing up some?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Accident

I've written before about my depression, that scary other part of me that I try to keep squelched down. Every now and then it gets the best of me.

One of V's summer classes ends tomorrow. We haven't been very good at keeping up with it, and so there's enough homework to probably take from now until class starts tomorrow to complete. A friend is visiting starting tomorrow; the house is a disaster and smells like cat shit. I'm PMSing like nobody's business.

I was supposed to watch Seth and Isabella tonight. On my way out the door (literally), I dissolved into an emotional mess. Wracking sobs, gasping breaths. Irrational sentences: I said something about wanting to get sick so I could just lie on the couch and eat toast, but somehow that turned into me wailing "I just want toast!"

Being an adult is hard. Worrying about money, school assignments, multiple jobs, and the future takes its toll. I told V this felt like mental car wreck. If I got in a physical car wreck, no one would expect me to keep functioning immediately as if nothing had happened. The car accident in my brain was just as bad, but not visible.

V texted Seth and Isabella's mom for me. I don't know what she said. I ended up falling asleep on the couch, when I asked for five minutes to try my hardest not to stress about anything. She gave me more than five minutes, of course; she had my phone, and somehow, I'm not babysitting right now. I don't want to know what she said. Thankfully, I've actually talked to their mom about depression before.

I'm still trying not to feel guilty. Not feel guilty for failing. Guilty for not performing all my responsibilities perfectly. Guilty for being human. That damn guilt has been chasing me for a decade now.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Read

Go read Melissa's piece on Universal Health Care. Now.
V and I are moving to Canada, k?

Speaking of Canada, hopefully I won't have company...

Roll

Lilly: But I wanted to see ALL the animals in the zoo!
We come for three hours tops, kid. Good luck.

Lilly: What's that?
Me: An emu.
Lilly: Patrick, look, an ee-nu!
Me: It's an M. Emmmmmmmu.

Lilly: I'm going to tell mommy there were no tantrums, and she'll be sooooo excited!

Me: I love the new pillows for your beds!
Lilly: Uh-huh! Nana and Papaw were here, and we got new doggies [stuffed animals], and pillows, and games, and clothes...
Oh boy.

My favorite-
Lilly: COWS! I am so EXCITED!!!
Really, cows?

That kid was on a roll today. Also, I french braided her hair three times. It was my first time french braiding; needless to say, the third time looked much better than the first. The first one was so bad it fell out, and the second she pulled on too much when she was angsty at lunch. It's a pretty good look for her, though.

Music class tomorrow! I've missed it.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sexuality Project

Awhile back, I mentioned that I'd be participating in Sierra's Religious Fundamentalism and Sexuality Project. I've been meaning to link to it again, but it keeps slipping my mind. She had so many responses that she's breaking us up into groups; I think that's awesome, and selfishly love that V and I are in the first group.

Here's what she's posted so far:
Sex Ed and the Body, Question 1
Question 2
Questions 3, 4, and 5
Question 6
Question 7

Peer Group, Question 1
Question 2
Question 3
Question 4

Romantic Relationships, Question 1
Question 2

Go add your voice to the comments over there, or leave some thoughts here!

Lines

It's been awhile since I mentioned the hilarious things that come out of the kids' mouths.

Patrick is very interested in the "lifegarden" who watches over the pool.

I took them down to a block party, and after looking around, Lilly asked me where the blocks were.

At Ikea, they asked me to take a picture of them on the (pink plastic) toddler bed they were playing on. I told them I'd taken enough...so they both got under the covers and snuggled together. Well of course I had to take a picture of that.

I had yesterday off, and it was wonderful. Especially because the kids are sick.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Share

It's been a day. Swimming with the twins, off to Seth and Isabella, and unexpectedly back to the twins, as their mom realized a friend was in town who wanted to meet for dinner. Thankfully, V has been with me for all of it. Swimming in particular is so much easier with two adults to two kids.

The days have been better. No tantrums on Tuesday; only one small one today. I'm calling Monday a fluke, and praying I never walk into the door at home in tears again.

At the pool today, a mom royally pissed me off. My kids had a few toys they'd brought to play with in the baby pool, and the little girl kept grabbing them. Her mother never stepped in, so it was left to me to do the "Hey sweetie, those are our toys; can we find you something else to play with?" After the third or fourth time, the mom finally came over. As she dragged her daughter away, I heard her say, "No, they don't want to share right now."

Excuse me? Who is at fault in that sentence? Not the girl grabbing other people's toys, that's for sure. I'm all for sharing, and sometimes I ask the kids to at the pool. But taking someone's toys right from their hands is never okay; her mom, though, made it out to be my kids' fault. They weren't sharing. They were wrong.

No, you need to teach your daughter to take responsibility. You took the toys. You grabbed things that weren't yours. If you wanted to borrow it, you should have asked.

Not they needed to give it to you. They should have shared.

The entitlement in that simple sentence, "they don't want to share right now," makes me fear for that little girl's future.

I'm not simply being uber-defensive of my kids. I do wish they shared better; they share great with each other (usually) but not so well with strangers. But regardless, they hadn't done anything wrong. And it irks me that the mother totally let her daughter off the hook.

Rant over.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fail

I don't want to write about yesterday, but I need to. I need to say something about the four and a half hours from hell, and me walking in the door to home, bursting into tears in V's arms. But I don't want to relive it. I'm scared for today. Not as scared, because I have Plans, but still...

The kids were whiny all last week. They were horrid for their parents over the weekend. And yesterday was pretty much a non-stop tantrum from Lilly, plus some spectacular contributions from Patrick, from when I got them up to when they went down for nap.

And I couldn't handle it. I did things I swore I wouldn't. I screamed at them. I smacked her. I failed as a parent.

Before you start to worry for their sake, know I am 100% honest to their parents. I left it in my daily note for their mom; I told their dad how the day had gone.

This morning, I had a long text from their mom. Part of it: "Know that I know you are wonderful and loving to them. I know how frustrating it is."

Not a word of it was condemning.
I'm doing enough of that myself.

All three of us adults in their lives agree that something is up. This behavior is out of character even for the girl who can be Miss Tantrum.

Today, I try something new. I will get them out of bed, throw some clothes on them, and shove food into them as we get in the van. I want to keep things going so there isn't any time to start the cycle. We're heading up to Ikea: their happy place. They've only been twice, but they love it. Jumping on beds, turning lights off and on, running through couches, "working" at desks. (I feel the need to add a disclaimer that they are not so wild as to hamper any shopper's experience.)

It's a trek, but we're going. Swedes, I have faith in you. Don't fail me.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Forsaking

I am so sick and tired of the "real love is showing people their errors to bring them to truth" idea. I've been on the receiving end of that plenty of times: "I love you, I really do, which is why I'm telling you that you're wrong." And yet, my brain still agrees with it. I'm still mired in the logic that, for someone coming from a Christian worldview, the highest form of love to them is "speaking the truth in love" - trying to bring them back to the fold.

I recently read Sierra's excellent series on homophobia, and a paragraph in the last section bowled me over. It's something I want to believe so badly. It's something, V admits, that she's felt for awhile, but could never articulate to me. Sierra writes:

"Unconditional love does not mean loving someone while disapproving of their actions. It means forsaking the right to disapprove. You cannot love who I am and hate what I do. What I do shows you who I am. If you choose to love a figment of your imagination, some idea of who I might become, then you love only your own mind, and what you hate is me."


I love that. "Forsaking the right to disapprove." But always in my head is my father's voice, the pastor of my youth, explaining why the world is wrong. Explaining that the truest form of love is concern for someone's well-being, now and in the hereafter, and so we must take care of people even when they don't think they need it.

That last sentence, now that I write it, does reek of selfishness. But the underlying idea is still wedged in my head. According to my brain, my father is completely right to try to "correct" me. So is my cousin who sent me a facebook message. Clarification: I don't think their ideas are right, nor am I in any danger of listening too closely. But I think they are well within their rights to say they love me, and then follow it with what they do.

So you see why that paragraph I quoted above gives me such joy and such stress at the same time. I absolutely love that idea. Forsaking disapproval. But I can't accept it as true. Maybe it's the last holdout of my upbringing. Maybe it's my pessimistic nature. Maybe it's just the section of my brain that my father inhabits. I don't know.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Millisecond

This post isn't meant to brag on myself at all. Goodness knows I can be a downright awful parent. That said, I've been wondering why my kids don't tend to act out in public as much as others. They listen pretty well, they generally follow the rules, and I don't have to repeat myself that often. (Obviously there are exceptions to this, and times I've carried Lilly out of places as she screams.)

In our music class yesterday, I watched a little girl lean toward the keyboard she wasn't supposed to touch. She touched it. Her mom said no. She touched it again. Her mom said no again, and asked her to come back to her lap. She kept pressing the keys. Finally, her mom leaned over, grabbed the back of her shirt, and pulled her back.

In that moment, I realized how I parent differently. I step in a second before. When one of my kids so much as leans toward the keyboard (or some equivalent thing they know they shouldn't do), I either ask them to sit back, or gently remind them that it looks neat but we have to wait for the teacher, or in some way bring to their attention that I'm there, watching, and they know the rules.

Again, it always seems that I come off more of a disciplinarian than I am. I'm not mean, I swear. But that half-second, of being on top of them and reading their minds where I can, gives me a ton of preventative time; then I don't have to correct or chasten nearly as much. I'm glad for it.

We've started counting tantrums for each kid for each day. So far this week, it's been Patrick 1, Lilly 2, and then yesterday was 2 and 2, and today was 1 and 1. If they only throw one (or none), they can have two stickers before nap. If it's two or three, they can have one sticker. More than that, and they're out of luck. Unfortunately, Lilly now throws a tantrum at breakfast every day. Every. Single. Day. Darn child.