Sophia, age 9

Today, I knew I wanted to write and I had about seven topics I wanted to write about- everything from catching you up to speed on my restarting roller derby, to deep and profound proclamations of my undying love to my Valentine, to a rundown of how last night played out. Actually, I will still give ya a quick recap on that–Wifey loved her gift. LOVED. I also loved mine and we were totally on the same page getting completely unique gifts from localish artists. She gave me a gorgeous handmade, handwrapped bronze and rhodochrosite necklace. We managed to get all the Valentine’s and birthday prep work handled and Garrett made sure to not let little things like Valentine’s Day and a boyfriend get in the way of his usual, after-school Netflix time with Madi. We aren’t too worried about her having a date in her bedroom. Privacy isn’t really in her future anyway.

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These are all great topics that I’m sure I can come back to, but for today, the birthday of my first born, let’s focus on this girl. Disclaimer: it’s gonna get real here. I could go on and on about his daughter of mine for hours. That’s been the case every year of her life, and this year is no different. Maybe you remember this kid from here (when she got suspended), here (7th birthday post), or even here (on letting toddler Soph dress herself).

This child has always been the most intriguing and wild mix of spirited and sensitive I have encountered of any human at any age. She’s a bold empath and not someone I was prepared to raise. I often worry that I’m simply not qualified to raise her correctly. I’m too scattered. Too impatient. I hold her to high standards, but then don’t always recognize when all she really needs is a hug. Her worst feeling in this whole wide world is feeling like a disappointment. I never, ever mean to make her feel like that. But I also don’t sugarcoat things, nor am I as sensitive as I need to be. I simply can be at a loss to appropriately and gently guide her through this life. I was raised in a “spare the rod, spoil the child” home. I was not raised to sort feelings and emotions and as much as I personally need that, it’s still hard to convey to her how to do that effectively. This year we hit new trials.

Through 2018 Sophia has been bullied & threatened at school, gone through major life changes with her dad (new gf, moving in, and then getting engaged), and of course balanced that with the usual struggles of having divorced parents in separate towns, a whirlwind of a little brother and two older step siblings, and growing up in a lesbian household in North Idaho.

With all that thrown out there you may think we’ve had a horrid, tumultuous year. Not at all. I’m more concerned it’s slowly breaking her spirit. Like she is getting way too old, way too soon. Yet, here she is, shining bright like a diamond most days. Flourishing in hip-hop dance, thriving in having finally found a theater and been cast in a musical, doing incredibly well this semester in school. Reading. Playing. Making new friends and having guests, and even an occasional sleepover. Working her own sense of style. Dabbling in makeup. For the most part, just doing her thang.

She is my pride and joy. She is an inspiration, but also a frustration. All I want is to effectively let her blossom into who she should be, safely, kindly, and thoughtfully. I want her to be kind, responsible, bold, and smart. And she is. I just don’t want any of that to get lost as the world weighs on her. I want 9 to be her best year ever. I want her to be her best. I want to be the mom she needs, even when I am not sure how. I want her to continue her performing arts as they provide her sense of community, creative outlet, and the attention she craves. I want her to keep using her imagination whether playing baby dolls in her room on the floor, or mastering shimmer eyeshadow in the mirror.

I guess, I just want to get this right for her. My heart gets heavy when I think of all the times I have lost my temper after asking her for the tenth time to really clean her room. Or when I snap at her for snapping at her brother. She bounces back to life of course, but I know each time leaves a little scar and a tiny piece of her free spirit has been reshaped.

But I’ve also seen her sparkle shine brighter than ever in these last few months. I’ve seen her rock a microphone like she owned it. I’ve seen her frolic with puppies, build some really powerful relationships, and come into her own on stage. Her “fash” is certainly detouring from what I’d pick for her, but goddammit I bought the absurd, nineties-esque, over-sized Tweety Bird hoodie and could bask in the glow of her delight for days.

Here’s to you, my Sophia, Valentine Baby. I’m ready to make 9 be your most incredible year yet.

 

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Galentine’s Day

In my world, for the last nine years, Valentine’s Day has been the day of Sophia, my sweetheart. It’s her birthday and frankly it’s nice to focus on that and skip out on the excessive commercialism of Valentine’s Day. Sure that’s kind of a cop out, but it’s worked for almost a decade so I’m rolling with it.

This year, it feels like EVERY day is child-focused. They are just so god-damn busy. The birthday girl is currently right in the middle of rehearsal for a highly anticipated performance in Suessical the Musical, Jr. We are all very excited, but this M-Th 20 minutes drive for 2 hour rehearsal shit in the worst winter storm in years is getting old. Then of course there are her hip-hop classes, and Garrett’s basketball practices and games. Luckily Tuck just wrapped up his basketball season and hasn’t quite started baseball yet. I’m really not sure how much else we can juggle. With weekend games up here, the littler kids have been with the moms almost exclusively. I love seeing these kids involved in stuff they are passionate about and I genuinely adore having them be active and actively finding their selves. It fulfills me all the way to the land of mommy tears.

That said, I miss my freaking wife. I miss family dinners that are simultaneously relaxing and chaotic. I miss having a glass or two of wine and then a couple more snuggled on the couch watching This is Us after the littles have been tucked in and the bigs have locked themselves back into their caves.

Tonight will be no exception to the chaos. There is dance practice and play rehearsal,  and of course we have the usual ruckus of last minute finishing Valentine’s and birthday treats. The bigs are going all in and having their “significant others” over to hang out before heading to Skate Plaza. Fun little fact: Tucker (6th grade) confided in me that he has planned this in hope of getting to do a little hand-holding during the slow songs. It’s sure to be a glorious, helter-skelter of a night and I’m here for it. And I’m here for the after party. After the madness of getting all of these things done in that never-large-enough window of post-school/work to kiddo bedtime, I’m planning to celebrate a romantic version of Galentine’s Day with my beautiful bride. We may not get there until 9 or 9:30, but at some point today I am gifting my wife with some pretty rad gifts and toasting her with her favorite champagne.

I literally can’t recall ever buying much on Valentine’s Day, even before Sophia’s birth, but this year I went for it and I’m really fucking excited about these gifts. They are personal, fun, cool, sorta-romantic, but not cheesily so, AND supportive of LGBT small businesses/artists. Do I have your attention now?

First, I ordered her the underwear all the cool-girl lesbians wear, but neither of us have ever gotten. You know who I mean- TomBoyX. Hell, I even did the right thing and ordered the appropriate size based on real measurements and followed the size chart. (Adulting takes so much more time than just winging it… :P) AND I got her the styles and colors I thought she’d like best instead of what I’d pick for me. C’mon, that’s harder than it sounds. Anyway, I know she will love them. I probably should have checked the shipping option for discreet packaging, cuz now she already knows she is getting somethings from there. But she thinks she is ONLY getting something from TomBoyX, and that’s where she is wrong.

I have been following an artist from Portland, OR, Veronica Casson,  on Instagram  (@saltandfog) for at least a year. I love her style. I love that she does so many diverse and inclusive works, and that she is part of the LGBT community. And did I mention that I really, really love her style? Yeah ‘cuz I do. I’ve tried to look into getting commissioned work done by her before, but it’s never worked out. This last week she offered a Valentine’s Day special for a couples custom piece to be sent digitally and in plenty of time for Valentine’s Day. It was limited to 3 customers and I freaking got one! I got my proof yesterday and I’m delighted. It’s perfect. She caught our spirit and even managed to incorporate all our signature accessories/style.

Don’t even try to lie to me. This so un-fucking-believably adorable and I love it!

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I need to have a better print done, but in order to give her something tangible tonight I printed a copy already and framed it. Oh god, I really hope she loves it as much as I do.

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I feel like it’s the perfect way to celebrate Galentine’s Day with my favorite Gal.

To check out more of Veronica Casson’s work, visit her website www.saltandfog.com.

Happy Galentine’s Day AND Valentine’s Day from one gal lucky enough to be married to her very best gal pal.

 

 

Lesbian Boudoir Photography

You will never believe what I managed to drag my wife into. Hell, not that many people we actually know IRL know we did this thing….  And it all started with a simple little Facebook tag.

Last October my friend Taylor tagged me in a Facebook model call by a Moscow, ID photographer I’d never heard of. After actually reading the model call, I fangirled hard over Whitney Lester‘s portfolio before getting  excited about the actual opportunity in front of me. Here was a young, modern, talented, (seemingly straight?), professional photographer actively seeking a same sex couple to shoot for her boudoir portfolio. Her style was striking, body positive, and empowering. The images I scoured featured women of all ages and sizes, and each one was absolutely fucking radiant. I got a little caught up in *needing* to be a part of this, and before fully thinking it through, I banged out the necessary intro to us a couple and then shared one of my all time favorite photos.  I know plenty of couples younger than us, more fashionable than us, more likely to ‘don a lacy little number, and well, just more, model-esque. But I swear to god this awesome photographer blew my mind and messaged me within 24 hours ready to plan something out.

Lost somewhere in my frenzy of delight and anticipation, I remembered my wife is not inclined to be the little fucking show off/camera whore that I am. She doesn’t hack her way through karaoke, or celebrate birthday month like a princess. She doesn’t blog, act like an expert in public forums, or comment to strangers in groups. She rarely posts to Facebook, and it’s rarer still to catch her on Instagram. Also, you won’t catch her flaunting her cute bod in anything short on the bottom, nor low on top. That clashes a bit with a model call. Spoiler alert: Model calls aren’t just free photo shoots. They’re for the photographer to add something to their portfolio they didn’t already have, and then SHOW IT OFF. Wherever and whenever they please for all eternity. Side note, the model call expressly specified that the models *must* be okay with nudity, and/or implied nudity.

After all this, over a few whiskey drinks and inspired by some sassy drag queens, my wife agreed we should definitely take advantage of this incredible opportunity with Whitney Lester Photography.

Our shoot was booked for a Tuesday afternoon so we both took some time off work and enjoyed a little midweek road trip for the 1.5 hour drive down to Whitney’s studio. I’ve done a bit of boudoir before… although not since after kids, and definitely not with anyone else. Neither of us had met Whitney, and despite all these unnerving details, the entire experience was incredibly enjoyable. We were relaxed within the first five minutes and genuinely enjoyed ourselves. No matter how much or how little we cover up, I felt beautiful and desirable AND comfortable. Terra was at ease, which relaxed me even further. We only worn things we would actually wear, and that was enough. I’m so very glad we agreed to do this. I am even more glad it was with Whitney and the images are truly beautiful and something we will always treasure.

I could go on and on about how intimate it was even in front of a perfect stranger and her camera, but I’ll let the images speak for themselves.

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Thank you to the incredibly talented Whitney Lester for sharing her gift with us, adding to LGBTQ visibility, being a wonderful ally, and giving us an unforgettable experience.

To see her work or to consider booking visit her website at WhitneyLester.com or on Facebook & Instagram.

 

 

Lesbian Photo Shoot

I’m a junky for photo shoots. When Terra and I were engaged and planning, I remember her asking what was important to me about our wedding. I told her just to get married and to have some great photos to show it off. For her, all she wanted was to get married and have a honeymoon. Spoiler alert, of those three things, the only one we nailed was getting married. I mean, we saved a bundle and we got married on our timeline, but our photos were done by my dear friend. I’m certainly thankful for them, but they aren’t an editorial spread by any means. You can see more here.

Rewind a little bit and we did the same damn thing when it came to engagement photos, except this time we used one of Terra’s friends. Again, totally decent, just not the professional photographer experience or product. You can see more here.

This summer, I figured we earned it. I wanted one, just us, no rush, fashionable, but relaxed professional photo session with someone awesome. After a little back and forth I chose a local guy that Terra actually went to high school with, Jeremiah Andrews Photography. His stuff is fun, a bit edgy, and high quality. Exactly what I was looking for. We decided on doing a more urban shoot. He and his wife/coworker Shaunna took us to four locations. I was consistently impressed with his work flow. Like seriously, I don’t think he wasted a single click. He got lots of great shots in several poses in all four locations and still had us headed back home within 45 minutes. Impressive. He kept us lose and laughing and ready to be fake models. Y’all I was living my goddamn insta dreams. Check out some of my favorites and hey, if you’ve got a sec, go visit his site, facebook, instagram, or travel instagram.

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What I Wore Wednesday

What better way to get back in the swing of things than a trusty, ol’ #whatiworewednesday? Bish, you know you like it. Or maybe not, but whatever.

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My career has that happy balance for me in regards to style. I work basically by myself aside from all the meetings and appointments sprinkled throughout the week. Generally speaking, I  know basically who I will see, what I will be focused on and dress accordingly for those pre-planned engagements. I also have to be semi-ready to do or redo a room layout, clean, or hell, shovel snow. That ends up meaning  I wear a lot of jeans, but try to dress it up with a blazer. Like every day.

Honestly, it works perfectly for running an artsy nonprofit. Today, I’m pretty sure I get double artsy points for a.) a scarf, and b.) putting a bird on said scarf. Aside from that, I kept it business casual (even casual Friday-esqu) with stretchy skinny jeans, flat shoes and a flowy blouse. I top it with a blazer to show I am ready for business when half my board shows up this afternoon for a programming committee meeting. But you can bet your ass my outfit choice can still hang if I have to attempt to repair a bathroom or mop the gallery. Both of which should probably be done right now….

Thanks for hangin’!

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