Friday, January 30, 2009

A few years ago, we were headed north to the now defunct Kaywood Cottage for a long weekend of partying, hanging out in Traverse City, and some much needed R & R with our best buds Chuck and Dale. I stopped for some provisions on my way home from work the day we left. My hastily scribbled grocery list had the following:

Cat food.

Apparently, I had somehow managed to pick up Amy Winehouse’s grocery list by mistake. The only thing missing was heroin. Those halcyon weekends of idle chit chat, reading magazines, and staring at the lake are gone, mostly in part to the fact that the cottage is no longer available to us.

But also, life with a kid is much different.

We had talked about this prior to the adoption, and we were okay with the stuff we might be giving up to start our family. I must say that my days of thumbing magazines are pretty much gone for now. I used to subscribe to the likes of Gourmet, Food and Wine, Spin, Utne Reader, and a whole host of other “lifestyle” magazines. This was way before reality hit and made me realize that Rachael Ray may indeed be the Messiah.

I recently went through my recipe collection, a somewhat organized collection of clippings and whatnot from the many years of pre-Anna epicurean journals. I tossed most of the recipes for kindling in the fireplace and stuck with what worked. I kept the dinners that got me out of the kitchen in less than 30 minutes and didn’t require a trip to Trader Joes, Whole Foods, or sneaking on to the set of Iron Chef to steal that week’s secret ingredient. Anna is getting interested in cooking, and will help with MUCH supervision, but that’s okay. Everything starts small, and if it takes me 20 minutes to make “instant” pudding, so be it.

Our diets have suffered because of this, but I am not complaining. The first year of Anna’s life, we lived off of Dream Dinners. Tod stoically prepared the meals for us with his coworkers each month up in Lansing, and it did indeed make life easier. It didn’t help matters that we are also a block away from a Little Caesar’s Drive Thru and have easy access to their delish hot n’ readies.

My thumbing material is now Family Fun, Parents, and Adoptive Families. My only hold out from my pre-Anna days is Entertainment Weekly. You can have that subscription when you pry it out of my cold, dead, hands beyotch! Thankfully, the aforementioned journals are easily read during my morning constitutional and don’t require much thought or time commitment.

Am I bitching at this point?

No, the time spent with Anna is a gift. Sometimes it’s a gift you want to return, as she is firmly in the Miss Independence State right now, and every little thing is a challenge. But mostly it’s a great time full of laughs and exploration. We’re headed to Chicago next week for a belated Christmas celebration with Tod’s side of the family. It will be Anna’s first time in the Windy City, and I can’t wait to share with her all the sights and sounds of this amazing place. The world is a big place, and there is much to see and take in, but when you look at things through the eyes of a child, the world seems much smaller and tangible. I am very eager to view Chicago with my Anna eyes on.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Hero

I spent the day yesterday at Tod’s school talking to his team’s students about the local oratorical contest addressing art and culture. The question posed by the group sponsoring the contest asked a pretty long-haired question, so Tod’s team asked me to come in and get all college like on their kids. We put together a pretty interesting and funny presentation, and I headed off to talk to the kids for the day. I didn’t identify myself with my last name, since it’s the same as Tod’s; rather, I was just Professor Tom. The day went well and I had a pretty good time talking with the kids about art and the stuff they see each day around town here in Jackson. The kids were respectful and seemed to like what we were talking about (especially Tim Hawkinson’s art).

But after school, the drama began. A young woman who was very attentive and involved in my first group came up to Tod after class and said:

"I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I have been hearing from a lot of people that you are Gay".

Tod’s reply… "So?"

And her response… she looked at him and walked away.

It amazes me the amount of chutzpah some of these kids have. I wouldn’t have dreamt of asking any of my teachers anything like that when I was in school. I accidentally found my 5th grade teacher smoking behind the dining hall when we were at camp one year (I was taking out our cabin’s trash). I thought I was dead, that I had unwillingly crossed some line that would have me expelled or worse yet, talked to by the Principal. But apparently it’s open season now. I came in one afternoon to pick up Anna while Tod did Market Day and a young boy came up to me and said: "how is she related to you?" while pointing at Anna. I didn’t know what to say so I just looked at him and moved on.

But apparently you can just give them some of their own medicine and they crumble. Tod’s response of “So?” said very little in quantity, but it spoke volumes in terms of message:


Class dismissed.

Monday, January 26, 2009

More about me...

This was done on Facebook, thought it was mildly interesting and might generate some conversation. Leave a comment and let me know who YOU are dear reader. One of these is not true, by the way.

1: My grandparents are all deceased and I miss them much.

2: I collect autographs.

3: My favorite band is Erasure.

4: I DJ'd in a past life.

5: I dream of winning the lottery so I can focus on my kid and not have to work.

6: I love tofu, it’s vastly misunderstood.

7: I have way too many cookbooks.

8: I lived in Venice, Fl. for almost a year.

9: I can eat a whole large pizza by myself in record time, but I need beer.

10: I have a great dude named Tod and a rockin’ babe named Anna

11: I am planning on going back to school for the rest of my life.

12: I used to help my grandparents run liquor over state lines.

13: The Sound of Music is my favorite movie.

14: I enjoy writing random, off the wall stuff on other people’s blogs.

15: I am a vegetarian and have been for many years but I will lapse into carnivorism when the meat is presented.

16: I like playing Zilch on line. Don’t look it up, it’s a big time waster. I would be so much more productive if I have NEVER seen this game.

17: I have a Maine Coon named Lola and a St. Bernard named Yukon. I miss Oscar

18: I have really super friends, thanks for asking!

19: I enjoy tattoos and other body modification.

20: I am a morning person, but with the right music and coffee can be a night person.

21: I am a very warmed blooded person. I put out a lot of heat. Most of us furry mammals are.

22: I'm proud to of been raised in Toledo and experience everything that I did, but I'm sad that I don't live there now.

23: I had my ears pierced two years ago, we were bored on a Sunday. I am over them now.

24: I love my Ipod, it makes walkies with the dog much more fun.

25: I love my friends and family.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

1 Toddler 1 Cup

Of pudding that is...

Nothing like a good ol' bowl of chocolate pudding to end your evening.
Not quite sure what YOU were thinking about.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I robot

We have a backpack from Family Week that we use each week at the library. Anna can fill the thing up with as many books as she wants from the kid’s area. They just have to fit in the bag.

1. It keeps the books in order and easily found for return, keeping the fines down to a minimum.
2. It gives her a quest each week when we attack the various branches around town.

Sometimes she fills it with the board books; sometimes it’s a “whatever” situation and she just starts tossing arbitrary books in the bag. This is how we came up with the “SPACE ART” book from last week. We got home and headed to the living room to check out the books. Tod helped her pick a few to read and the space art book was one. They looked at all the projects and marked the pages that they wanted to do.

One of the pages was making your own robot. She loves her Yo Gabba Gabba and is fond of Plex, the yellow robot overlord of the YG2 crowd. So, I gathered up some recycling and a few art supplies that I just happened to have on hand and we began our experiment in toddler arts n’ crafts. Mind you, I am certified K 12 art, but this was a whole different ball of yarn. While most kids are compliant and just want to make something, Anna had to experiment and stack and restack, and experiment some more and wear my very patience to the ground. Remember, I am used to whiny college students who usually don’t have an idea from the get-go. Anna had 1, 000 ideas and was bound and determined to test them all out.

We finally figured out a basic body and Tod taped it all together for hot gluing later. The robot in the book was silver and covered in foil. I had some silver paint in my studio so I thought we could just paint the thing silver. Didn’t work. So, it ended up being a rather tarnished gold color. We spent yesterday afternoon accessorizing the creature with stickers and bangles.

As any good toddler with two Daddies knows: the only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.

Behold the finished product

While some may protest that little girls shouldn’t be making robots, we’re happy to announce that after the above bot was done, Anna promptly remarked that she wanted to make a Princess Robot. I told her that there had already been a Princess Robot and its name was Princess Di.

But it was prone to crashing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Anna and W

My only disappointment concerning Anna’s birth was the fact that George W. Bush was in office the year she was born. We have left her baby books empty on that page, as we’d really like to think that he wasn’t, but the sad reality is that he was, and for eight years, America suffered.

I remember sitting in Applebee’s election night 2004 and all the televisions were on the various news channels monitoring the results. As the results moved towards Bush again, one of the servers walked by our table and did a high five with his coworker and shouted, “Four more years baby!” Now I am not a violent person by nature, but I wanted to pick up a chair, break it over his head and then stab him in the face with a broken chair leg. While some of the most amazing and wonderful things in my life have happened in the past eight years, they are all marred by the fact that Bush was in office.

For many, he is a hero, a misunderestimastood kind of guy who just likes to clear brush and feel up German dignitaries, but for me, he’s a symbol of all that was wrong with America eight years ago. The Culture Wars were starting, and the Gays were tossed under the Evangelical Bus to assist W. in his climb to power. Both 2000 and 2004 saw a variety of ballot initiatives aimed at the Religious Right/Evangelical camp: Gay marriage and Gay adoption being the top two.

The campaigns here in Jackson County witnessed increasingly vicious ads run by the top two Republican contenders, the nastiest ones coming from Rick Baxter, a one term state rep who used his position as a County Commissioner to enact an unnecessary “Defense of Marriage” proclamation here in Jackson several years prior. This got him on the Conservative radar and helped get him elected. Thankfully, he was only one term and was soundly beat by Martin Griffin last election.

For a political group that seems so focused on the family (ahem) their actions were decidedly against LGBT families. Instead of helping families grow, their actions and resolutions hurt LGBT families by restricting benefits and custody of children. But then many of the Republican/Religious Right idols began to fall. I listened with glee as Ted Haggard, Mark Foley, and Larry Craig all met their ironic downfalls. The 2006 midterm election saw a glimmer of hope for the country, as the Republicans and their ilk lost much of their clout and their credibility.

For the past eight years I have been an American, but not proud of that fact. When Obama was elected in November, that all changed. A new chapter in America’s history starts today, our first African-American President. Many of you might not know that Anna is multi-ethnic, so we have been watching this election with an eye not only for America’s future, but for our daughter’s and her mother as well. Anything is possible in America, and today we show the world just how true those words are.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Some have wondered why the title of the blog... Jesus has Two Daddies.

I have wondered who hasn't been paying attention in Sunday School.

Let's review:

God the Father:

And, Jesus' adopted Father on earth, Joseph:

Any questions?

Hope, Change, blah, blah, blah

Yes, I was pissed when Hopesie McChangealot tapped Rick Warren to speak at his inauguration, as homobigots were not the change I signed up for. I listened to the arguments on both sides about this choice and I got over it. Flash forward a few weeks ago, and Hopesie picks homobishop Gene Robinson to open his cotillion this weekend. Yea! We got our voice out there. Or so we thought.
Now teh gays are upset that Gene Gene the prayin’ machine was cut out of HBO’s coverage of the event.;jsessionid=57055D493C19DFC4898EA6F36441E2D2?diaryId=9102

Listen, I was in marching band and I know exactly how he feels.

Need a commercial break? Do it when the band performs.

Need some commentary time? Do it when the band performs.

Sure, we practiced and actually had talent, unlike the dancing Petri dishes that were our high school cheerleaders. But hey, a bunch of band fags aren’t going to keep an audience.
Gene, thanks for doing this. Sorry that HBO cut you out, but know that those that were in attendance enjoyed and appreciated what you did. We had a poster hanging around the band room when I was in high school. It was a crudely drawn picture of a forlorn Charlie Brown and it said: doing a good job around here is like wetting yourself in dark pants. It gives you a warm feeling but no one notices.

We noticed Gene, and we’re grateful.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Forever and Ever?

I was chatting with a good friend tonight and we were discussing his current status of single. He discussed the breakup and what brought it about. He mentioned a discussion with his ex in which when asked if this person was the person he wanted to spend the rest of his life with he answered no. This, of course, was not the answer he (the ex) wanted to hear and they went their separate ways.
When I first met Tod, this question was answered in my head within the first few weeks of our relationship. As we grew together as a couple, my guess was confirmed. I think this is why I am so adamant about Gay Marriage. I want to grow old with Tod, but I want to be safe and secure in not only our relationship, but in our status as a couple as well.

Getting old is hard enough.

I watch my parents struggling in retirement, and I can’t imagine going through it not married. My Grandma Oakley remarried after my Grandfather passed for that very reason.

I want to grow old with Tod, but I don’t want to worry about if I can share a room with him in our retirement center/nursing home.

I want to grow old with Tod, and at some point, I would like our family to all be on his insurance.

I want to grow old with Tod, and I want to know that he and Anna will be taken care of should something happen to me.

I want to grow old with Tod, but I want to know that we can visit each other in the hospital when that time comes to say good bye.

I looked at the pictures of Phyllis Lyon, 79, and Del Martin, 83, the first couple to legally marry in California and my heart swelled with pride. These two had been together for longer than I have been on this earth, and for a brief time, they were legally married and were able to be together under the band of marriage.
As heterosexual couples, the above things would never be an issue, but for us, it could be.
While we are legally married in California, it does very little for us here in Michigan since Proposition 2 passed several years ago. The person you love and care about and want to spend the rest of your life with should be the focus of your existence, not the questions listed above. While being a heterosexual doesn’t automatically guarantee a trouble free marriage, it does provide some safe guards that we as LGBT couples do not enjoy. Take your marriage seriously, take your vows seriously, and look the person you married in the eyes and tell them that you want to grow old with them.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Olivia on Nick Jr.

I had just started at JCC when the first "Olivia" book came out. I remember walking into our faculty offices one morning and our Children's Literature Professor was reading snippets from the book and laughing hysterically. The scene in the award-winning book that had us all laughing was when Olivia starts her day by moving the cat.

Seriously, it’s funny.

Long before Anna was born, I went out and bought the first book, and it remains one of my favorites. The simple story of a very urban and culturally-smart pig and her family stole my heart. When they go to the beach, Olivia builds a sand version of the Empire State building. When they go to the Met, she stares at a Degas imagining that she is a ballet. When she sees a Pollack, she exclaims out loud that she could, indeed do that. Ian Falconer wrote the books for his sister’s family and made all the characters pigs because he believes that pigs look like kids with their big heads. I won’t lie, there is a pretty strong Gay sensibility in the stories, but that’s what makes them so refreshing. I am not sure what the author’s sexuality is, but I think he plays for our team. Olivia dreams of being a Supreme Court Justice and demands that Maria Callas’s biography be her bed time story. Honestly, how many heterosexuals know who Callas is or would even imagine hanging an Eleanor Roosevelt poster in their child’s room?
I began sharing this book with Anna the minute we were back home in Jackson from Ohio. She didn’t mind that we read it night after night, but she fell in love with the book, and we now own them all. Imagine our glee when an ad came on for the new “Olivia” cartoon on Nick Jr. Okay, I was stoked, Anna wanted more SpongeBob. I have set the DVR for next week when the show debuts.

Here are the details that I found on the web:

Nickelodeon has partnered with media content company Chorion to bring the bestselling Simon & Schuster Olivia books to life in a new animated TV series. The debut of this pre-school series is planned for the first quarter of 2009. Nickelodeon plans to launch the new 3D CGI series, which will include 26 half-hour episodes during the first quarter. Academy Award-nominated animation studio Brown Bag Films will be animating the project, and Teri Weiss will be the executive in charge with Chorion executive vice-president Diana Manson and creative director Megan Laughton. "Early in the development process, Ian encouraged us to consider 3D CGI for the adaptation to television," said Manson. "It was a brilliant idea, and it inspired us to find Brown Bag Films. They have been a wonderful partner, as have the team at Nickelodeon." Books will be featured prominently in the upcoming consumer products rollout. The Simon Spotlight and Simon Scribbles imprints of Simon and Schuster will be developing a robust television tie-in program with a myriad of formats, from storybooks to novelty and coloring books set to launch in late 2009. Olivia's imagination leads the way in this new series, which aims to foster the sense of make-believe and play that every pre-schooler has. The show will encourage children to be creative and to think beyond the scope of everyday parameters, instilling a sense that with a strong imagination, there are endless possibilities for any great idea. Mostly, the show, like this character, celebrates a spunky, confident personality who is always wondering "What if?"

Set your DVR, you won’t be disappointed.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hallmark Christmas?

This was from last month, but I felt it was worth posting again for those that hadn't read it...

Yesterday was pretty much a perfect Christmas day, if there is such a monster. It was as if Norman Rockwell and Martha Stewart mated in a holy union of holiday perfection over our house. I have much over the past week or so lamenting the holidays, and I have had much sympathy for those who are struggling during these trying times. But Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were great here in Jackson, Michigan, and I think one of the reasons why is that we are looking at Christmas and the holidays through the eyes of a three year old.

I will admit, Anna wasn’t much fun her first two Christmases. Babies are pretty much boring and decidedly not festive.

Eat, poop, sleep, repeat.

While for some, that may make the perfect holiday, it doesn’t do much for me. This year however, it was magical. We had a fine meal on Christmas Eve and then headed out to the “Night Lights” at the fairgrounds. It’s a drive through light show that is pretty cool. Anna was released from her car seat and got to roam around the car (it’s a Britney Spear’s Christmas!) as we drove through the display. We headed then to our church for a candle light service where we were tapped to light the final candle on the advent wreath. It was quite an honor considering we are noobs at the church. Anna then slept through the rest of it, even as the organist blasted a thundering “Joy to the world” from the 100 year old pipe organ. We put her back to bed after reading “The Night before Christmas” to her and we sat as a family in front of the fire and drank wine.
We got a few hours of sleep and then the fun started. Presents, talk of Santa, more presents, all while a gentle snow fell outside. I had to check myself a few times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. While some of you are probably rolling your eyes and throwing up, I just have to say that dammit, it’s about fucking time something goes right at Christmas, because many of my memories around this holiday are pretty damn awful. Let’s review…

· The first few Christmases after Grandpa Oakley died back in the seventies, Grandma Oakley didn’t drive, so she ended up taking the bus up from southern Ohio, or my Mom had to make the perilous journey down to get her. To me, Grandma O was Christmas, and it just wasn’t the same without her at our home.
· The year before my Grandpa Holdgreve died. We could see that he is not long for this world, and indeed he wasn’t. You can see it in our faces as well. The pictures from that year are gruesome to look at as Grandpa was as white as a snowman.
· The year my Mom got sick and we didn’t know what was wrong. The word Lupus was going around, as well as cancer. It ended up being rheumatoid arthritis. My Dad, brother, and I were all in the basement watching a movie and my Mom was stuck in the bathtub upstairs as she couldn’t get out. She laid in the water until one of us finally heard her yelling for help over the movie.
· The year my boyfriend Steve got sick with lymphoma and was in Colorado visiting his family. He had just found out he was HIV positive as well, so this was not good news for anyone. I felt helpless as I listened to him and his family talk on the phone trying to keep happy tones and attitudes while in a hospital’s cancer ward. And then…
· The year that Steve died, on Christmas day. The phone message from his Mom said that he had “made his transition and was in a better place.” My first thoughts each Christmas mornings are of Steve.
· The year I met Tod, but this is several months before we started dating. My relationship with my ex was on the rocks and it was very painful to be with my family. My brother had just gotten married to much fanfare and this was their first Christmas as a married couple. It was also the first Christmas my Grandma Oakley was not at our house for the entire holiday, as she was in the nursing home. I have never felt so alone in all my life.
· The year that we found out a friend from church was killed the day before Christmas Eve in a senseless family argument. He and his family had lit the love candle on the advent wreath at our former church a few weeks prior. I remember his wife being very emotional. It was as if she knew something was going to happen.

So yeah, humor me and allow me on Hallmark Channel Christmas just this once.

Getting started...

As some of you know, I am writing THE BOOK on our adoption process. I have committed to an hour a day of writing, more if the inspiration is there. Some of my old posts from LJ are going into THE BOOK and will help define/write chapters, etc. I will be posting snippets from what I write each day as I would love to hear what you have to say about what I am writing.

Now, I am not asking you to be my editors, rather, I am asking for your comments on the feel of the text and if you want to know more. A lot of the books we read ventured into “too much information-land” and we don’t want to do that. Nor do we want to leave you scratching your head wondering what we were thinking.

So here's what I wrote this morning:
I was putting up the Christmas tree in our attic last year and Anna was busy playing and half watching Cailou on television. Anna and I have the ability to be in the room together and do our separate things without being in each other’s space, even back then as a two year old. We play a Marco Polo of sorts, it’s our version of sonar and it helps me keep in touch with her without being obtrusive. So as we pinged our comments back and forth to each other, we both carried on with the tasks at hand.

Me: Hey look, it’s one of Papa’s former student’s ornaments, isn’t it pretty?

Anna: Cailou is playing outside now

Me: Do you like Bugs Bunny?

Anna: Cailou has a coat on.

Me: Look, it’s Tinky Winky!

Anna: Cailou has a Mommy.

Great silence in the room. I go about my business.

Anna: Cailou has a Daddy.

More crickets chirping, I break out in a cold sweat.

Anna: Cailou has a Mommy and Daddy.

I put down the Yukon Cornelius ornament that I was about to hang up and gather my thoughts. I calmly ask, “What does Anna have?” and she responds as only a two year old can:

Anna has Daddy and Papa.

And she got a big smile on her face and went on with whatever she was doing. I broke out in tears and rushed over to give her the biggest hug I have ever given her. We had been asked how we would talk to Anna about her family structure, and we shared our home study ready answers with whoever asked. As teachers, we tend to over think just about everything in our lives, this being no different. It took a simple cartoon on television to show me that kids are really in tune, regardless of their age. I used to think that toddlers and babies were pretty much lumps, but now I realize that they aren’t lumps, but rather sponges, taking in everything in their environment.