Happy 7th Birthday, Valentine’s Baby

If you happened upon this post, or caught a bit of subtext in some others, or hell, if you happen to actually know me in real life, you know this year hasn’t always been the very best for my S. Since before that child was born *60 hours of labor, cough, cough*, she has been stubborn and willful and the kind of gal that marches to the beat of her own bongo. See here for some toddler reference.

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In the last couple of months there has been an incredible transformation. Sure, she’s still strong and willful and a bit on the stubborn side, but there is no more “clipping all the way down” almost weekly and landing in the counselors or principal’s office. Almost daily she is “clipping up” to “Role Model,” acting as student of the week, bringing home awards, and behaving in such a way that leads to mommy-happy-tears emails from her teacher. She tries to help out, assists with her annoying little brother and, I swear to god, even her room is clean. (Sure, I did most of it, but she’s maintaining it.)

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She has grown from an irritable, emotional, adjusting and sometimes violent level of strong and bold, to a more patient, responsible, accountable brand of strength. She hugs me and tells me she loves me every day. She astounds me academically, especially in math and science. Her passion for animals has never wavered. She sings and dances all around and gives zero fucks about being any kind of a princess in itchy dresses. She is one of the most balanced and awesome girls this earth has been blessed with.

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I can genuinely say I both admire and envy her. At SEVEN years old she has more backbone than I did at …. Shit. At least 23 or so. Her beauty is exterior in her cute, half toothless grin, chubby cheeks and big blue eyes. But her true beauty, what makes her most fascinating is her beautiful soul. I’m glad I had her when I did, and I’m glad I’ve reached a point in my life where I can be stong enough to raise a woman as strong as she. I never want to hinder her from the greatness I know she will find. I never want to cloud the pure sunshine in her heart. I never want to let her down. I know she leads me just as much as I lead her and I can’t wait to see where this next year of her life leads the both of us.

This morning, all six of us were up extra early to celebrate another year of this girl. We dined on fine chocolate chip muffins, strawberries and sparkling cider in plastic eyeglasses sniffing scented pencils. It was honestly great. I mean, sure, the moms throwing sack lunches together as fast as humanly possible while chugging coffee and water equally after too much the night prior. But that’s us. That’s our beautiful life and I know my baby girl seven year old genuinely enjoyed her quickly family’s cheers to her, AM celebration. Next up: Nachos, a “horse cake,” and headache-inducing karaoke.

Happy birthday, my Valentine’s Baby. I love you forever and I like you for always.

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Lesbian Family Photos: Coming Soon

All in all, I’ve been blogging (even if somewhat irregularly) since 2010 after I had S. I know this because it was all about me living the new mom life and trying to lose weight at the same time. For what it’s worth, that did prove to be a pretty effective way to focus on my goals and shed some weight. It was also where I announced my pregnancy with baby G and that was pretty much the end of that.You can check it out here. When I re-hit the scene as Mrs. Mama Elle later rebranded as Life Styled by Elle it was a lot of the usual lifestyle/mom blog, except I knew a little bit better what I was doing. My graphic design skills weren’t total shit and my writing was pretty good. At quite a few points I kept things quite regular and I must say some of the posts and topics were pretty good. My collaboration with Ruthie from fairywingsanddinosaurs.com was something of which I was particularly proud. In fact, with my impending family photo shoot, I was thinking of republishing it here.

Except now I can’t. It’s pretty heteronormative and even more than that, which of the outfits in the “big girls” edition could I even bribe our girls (almost 7 and almost 13) into wearing? I won’t lie, they are super adorable. But every single option includes pink or lace or a skirt or something and there is just no way. And frankly, if I’m being picky, the family pics I used as examples aren’t that great and every single one is just a little family of four. All a mom, a dad, and little kids that parent dress. That’s easy. Sounds like a revamp is in order. Only this time I’m tackling a lesbian couple with four strong-willed kids. And to be frank, I’m pretty sure 4 outta 5 school days a week, the 5 year old dude has the best style. The grand finale will be our family pics. The proof is in the pudding and you can judge whether or not I’m able to pull it off. And fair warning, if they turn out even semi-cute, I will pin the shit outta every single one on Pinterest. I have yet to be able to find much under “lesbian family photos” that isn’t two cute young mama’s with a single little toddler/baby or even just a bump.

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Basically the only big, lesbian family photo on the whole internet. Great show, BTW.

Our family photos are scheduled for Thursday, February 9th. I’m not yet prepared at all, but I am SO excited. I’m silly about stuff like this. I get that it’s not actually important to my relationship or family well being, but to me, it feels like it is. It’s symbolic. It’s all of us together. Blended, sort of matching, sort of crazy, smiling. It’s Terra and I engaged and promised and together. Basically, it’s everything I want most in life captured to treasure forever. Plus, hey, I’m a multi-tasker and it’s new family photos, pictures of just the sibling pairs for the dad’s Father’s Day gifts, and engagement pics all in one swoop. Hell, I’ll probably get a blog head shot and Christmas card 2017 out of it while I’m at it because I’m just that kind of girl. Wish me luck!

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Happy Holidays…

So ‘member that time (two days ago) when I said my life was just too perfect to even be  interesting enough to write about? What I meant really was that to me, it’s pretty effing perfect. I mean that my life has little to no stress or conflict and that I feel loved and love every single day. Let me assure you that what I did NOT mean is that I have all my shit together. I didn’t mean that my kids eat all local, non-gmo foods. I didn’t mean that I’m caught up on laundry. I didn’t mean that no one in the house ever pegs anyone else in the house right in the face with Nerf bullets. And I definitely didn’t mean that I’m always to work on time in starched clothes.

What I meant was that I high five my girlfriend when either of us comes up with a meal that ¾ of the children eat and it isn’t candy or microwaved popcorn. And that we have more than enough clothes to go a full week without desperately needing to wash everything, and that sometimes whatever we are enjoying doing is far more important than laundry. I meant that our kids are rowdy, playful, and kind of assholes, but they have a hell of a time together and sometimes that means Nerf wars in the house. And I meant that far more often than not, I would rather get 15 more minutes of snuggles and kisses in the morning than actually have my shit together and be ready for the day every day. That is what makes my life perfect.

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We yell, bicker, and lose our tempers. We make big ol’ messes, and forget that it’s chorus day or game day. We dance like maniacs, sing too loudly, and honestly a few of us have questionable hygiene. We get cavities & stitches, we miss the bus, and sometimes people lock themselves in the their rooms or get sent home from school. And this year when I had my heart set on Christmas cards from all of us, I didn’t have one single, non-Chuck-E-Cheese photo of our party of six.

Guess what. I did nothing more than upload a few facebook pics onto the Costco website and have them finalized and printed within hours. There was no professional photography. I didn’t spend hours personally creating the perfect, custom card, and then add on more hours designing a perfect holiday newsletter. It’s just us, being more happy than I thought possible.

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Blended, Lesbian Family

When I knew I was separating for my ex-husband, there were a lot of unknowns. All kinds. Was I really THAT gay? How would I meet women? How would my ex-husband and I schedule and share the kids? How would they do? Where would I live? The list went on and on. I even asked myself how I would feel when baby daddy moved on and added to his clan and gave my kids step or half siblings. I assumed he’d eventually have more kids or get with a girl who had her own. One thing I absolutely never considered was me settling down with some cute single mom.

At the time I was certain I was in the severe minority of lesbians. I mean, I married a dude and had babies with him. Kinda silly to worry about, but that’s where I was. Now, I’d say I know more lesbians that have dated, married and/or even bred with fellas, so yeah, lesbian single moms of all sorts of backgrounds are a thing. Duh. I’m one. My gf is one.

With that in mind, together we are tackling the thing that many fear, and neither of us planned for or expected at all – parenting together all blended family style.

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The idea of it is positively daunting. Terra’s oldest is in Jr. High. Once she hits High School, we will consistently have a kind in high school for the next 12 years consecutively. My youngest is in Pre-K now. That means 13 more years of packing lunches, homework, field trips, fundraising, and PTA. We just finished football season for one, but now he’s started chorus, and another is about to begin basketball. Spring will bring soccer and baseball and lord knows what else. We literally have decades of little league and recitals ahead of us. Plus they are all feral and can NEVER all be satisfied with the same meal, on the same day.

To re-cap, two sane-presenting, lesbian mothers decided to shack up after only months of even knowing each other to accomplish shit that is already a struggle with four of the strangest, sassiest little darlings on the planet. Go us, amirite?

The reality is it’s really fucking amazing. I mean it. Sure two days ago I had to put the kibosh on some outdoor activities because one threw a baseball at another (unprepared) one, and kid b strongly considered choking out kid a…. Well, until queen of the children decided this was not acceptable and with the help of her loyal maiden shut it all down. But then yesterday one of the troublesome brothers insisted on helping his “little sister” with all of her homework. I walked in to see this. My heart melted and I once again knew we were all in exactly the right place.

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A Little Bit Country

As you may have caught on, I like cities. My heart belongs (mostly) in Seattle. I have no intention of ever living anywhere smaller than my current community. It’s no city but with about 50,000 people, we have enough restaurants,  entertainment, bars, events, shows, and shopping to keep me living my preferred life, all with a small enough population to feel family-oriented and safe. That said, there is something you have to love about the country life, or at least in doses.

This weekend GF and I took my littles to our friends’ ranch. GF has known Kirsten and Marie for many years, and their three year old son since he was just a baby. My daughter just adores it out there. They have everything she wants in life: horses, cattle, dogs, cats, wildlife, and wide open spaces. Look at this joy!

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My son in all his 4 years of glory is a tiny gamer and doesn’t particularly care for animals much at all. But look at him go.

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I am so thankful that Kirsten and Marie continue to open up their home to all of us and let my kids experience so much more than I could otherwise offer them. Not only a peak at the ranch life, but the chance to see a beautiful lesbian family. Neither of my children really said anything about it on the last trip, but this time my son, G, brought up how Colton has two moms several times. And he was excited about it. He told GF that he “yikes” two moms and that he loves her. And that it was like he has two moms because she likes me. I’m just retelling what he told my GF, but you get the idea. He does have kids with lesbian mothers in his daycare class, but I don’t think he really ever picked up on it. It’s beautiful to see that he can love his daddy, love his mommy, and still love this new relationship too. He’s both the sweetest and the cutest. Well mostly. Take his shit and he may try to punch you. We’re working on it. 😛

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I’m working on trying to be less helicopter-y in my mothering. The kids are older and love to explore. This weekend I even let them sit (without keys) on a 4-wheeler without me. Baby steps.

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The pure joy and sunshine in their faces from just running and playing and being just as dirty and happy as they please is a delight. I’m really just sharing all these pics so I can remember them always.

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Oh yes and a view and a Sunday morning Bloody Mary for each grown up doesn’t hurt.

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Cheers.

St. Patrick’s Day Green Cupcakes

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! My daughter has been counting down to this day for weeks. I’m not really sure why, because in all honesty, we do almost nothing different from any other day. I know lots of the cool moms kick off the day with green pancakes and green milk or even green eggs and ham before dressing their miniatures in adorable leprechaun garb. I managed to find mine some green shirts and poured them some Lucky Charms.I know, I KNOW. I was NEVER gonna feed my kids that god awful sugar+corn syrup+artificial flavors and coloring cereals, but the box was like throw-back cool and the marshmallows were seasonally ALL green clovers. (Shamrocks?) Update: They are both still alive. I’ll feed ’em same kale for dinner.

Anyway, the day is here. Here’s my girl sporting her green.

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The kids were supposed to be at their dad’s tonight, but he will be battling for the city league basketball championship (yes, that is a real thing) so I get my littles. We are gonna get all domesticated and make my favorite green velvet cupcakes.

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Here’s the recipe if you feel like playing along. Really, it’s great recipe, just switch it to red (duh) if you prefer the classic, or play with any color for a super festive look. Or separate the batter and do all sorts of colors for a rainbow affair.

Cupcakes

1 ¼ c. flour

¾ c. sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

1 tbsp. cocoa powder

¾ cup vegetable oil

½ c. milk

1 egg

1 tbsp. green food coloring

1 tsp. white vinegar

1 tsp. vanilla

 

Sift together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl , whisk together wet ingredients. Gradually add dry mix to wet mix at medium speed. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350. Yields 1 dozen cupcakes.

 

Icing

¼ c. butter at room temp.

¼ c. cream cheese, softened

½ tsp. vanilla

2 c. confectioner’s sugar

Whipping cream (or milk) as needed

 

Beat butter, cream cheese and vanilla until smooth. Gradually beat in sugar. Add cream/milk for preferred consistency.

 

Eat and Enjoy!

 

A Parenting Win for our Non-Traditional Family

Starting at a new school can be an intimidating, difficult transition. Particularly if you have never attended a real school before because you are a just a tiny little kindergartner. It is even more difficult if you don’t know anyone who is going to the elementary school to which you have been assigned. And I’ve never been in this predicament, but I would assume if you happen to be a five year old dealing with all that, while also adapting to your parents splitting up, your mom (and consequently you and your little bro) moving to a new apartment, and your mom getting a new girlfriend within the same time span, life could be stressful. With that in mind, I was calmly cautious about my first ever parent-teacher conference for my daughter, S. The ex-husband and I were to be there together and neither of us had been to any such thing before. I know my daughter is fiercely independent and strong-willed, even if a kind and compassionate soul. It can really be hit or miss when anything is amiss in her world.

S at the children's circus summer 2015
S at the children’s circus summer 2015

Ex-husband was nervous. Really nervous. I wasn’t, but at the same time, I had no idea what to expect. The first words out of teacher’s mouth were, “Well we have a very strong-willed young lady on our hands.” *Pause.* I don’t love “strong-willed” as it seems to have negative connotations in line with the bossy v. leadership skills debate. I straightened up in my seat ready to hear out whether this was a complaint, compliment, or simply a fact. I’ve heard it as all three.

Walking to Kindergarten
Walking to Kindergarten

It was simply a fact. My S is strong and independent.  Mrs. R went on to give us more details about S’s classroom behavior. She both tests and respects boundaries, especially once she knows the boundaries are there and why. She is a leader among her classmates. Her marks in all scholarly categories were above average. (Although frankly, I don’t care. She’s five. I’d rather have a kind, strong, helpful, creative and self-aware kid than some kid who is already proficiently reading.) She engages in all aspects of the kindergarten curriculum from phonics to computer lab to phys ed, and as per usual, she is (typically;)) a delight to be around. AND the teacher with a good 20+ years of experience repeatedly praised us for being attentive, involved, good parents working together to raise a great kid. BAM, bitches.

First day of school and posing with erh scrubby little brother... not his first day of school.
First day of school and posing with her scrubby little brother… not his first day of school.

So there you have it folks. So far, so good. Despite what you may have read,almost-divorced, lesbian moms actually can raise well-adjusted, kind, intelligent, and all-around kick ass kids.

Pre-K Graduation
Pre-K Graduation