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.

 

 

What I Wore Wednesday… On a Thursday

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My outfit of the day yesterday was a bit out of the usual for my Work Wear Wednesday look. Maybe you noticed. I mean, I may be a big slob, but I still don’t typically wear baggy dude jeans and a friggin hoodie to work. I recently discovered, however, that this IS my outfit of choice when my kid gets suspended from school for a day.

Yeah. You read that shit right. I knew I wasn’t in the running for mom of the year, but geezus, suspension wasn’t in the playbook either. Tuesday afternoon I was trucking along at work and getting stuff done. Cold calls, follow up, the whole thing and feeling pretty darn good about it. After one such appointment I was checking my email while still parked and received a phone call – from the elementary school principal. I wasn’t actually too surprised to see the school number flash on my phone. S seemed off that morning. I just knew she was coming down with something. As it turns out, it was less flu-like and more Feral Child Syndrome-esque. The principal went on to tell me about how at recess S was caught tackling a kid on the playground with limbs flailing and hair-pulling. More or less a flat out bar brawl. Nice.

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My little sunshine this summer

I’m the first to admit S is a very emotional child and often her feelings and strong will get in the way of five-star manners, but seriously, full on tackle and hair pulling?!?! It took me some time to process but after hanging up, I went back to checking my email. My boss had emailed to let me know the principal called the studio number, and she had given him my cell. Awkward, but since she already knew something was going on it made it easier to go in a ask to work from home yesterday. Thus the outfit.

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Same kid and her expressive face…

Long talks were had with both S’s dad and Terra. Despite S’s previous offenses, this was and is uncharted territory. We’ve looked at everything from emotional issues with the divorce and all thereafter, to her just actually being ill and tired that day, to other concerns such as behavioral disorders. Finally I got the chance to just be home and talk to S privately. I told her to write and draw me a story of her whole day. She told me how in the morning she was so upset that she just hid under her desk. The managed to “turn her attitude around” but had some “not-so-good stuff” at recess.  Here’s her story:

We were on the playground and two kids were playing with a football and I wanted to play with them and they said I could. But then we were gonna play dogs and I was a dog that loved balls and so I pounced on the girl with the ball and tried to get the ball from her and we were playing and I accidentally pulled her hair and we all got in trouble.

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Sassy for sure.

I wasn’t really sure what to think of all that. She’s such a weirdo. 😛 I turned it into a conversation about bodily autonomy and how she shouldn’t touch anyone without their permission, even nice touches like hugs. Nor should anyone touch her without her permission. She spent the day grounded and suspended, missed the one sunshiney day of the week,and “specials day” at school. Stayed tuned. This is far from the last crazy situation I will find myself in with this one.

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.

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