Thursday, February 25, 2010

Yup, it's been that kind of week

We got the shots, we washed our hands, hell, we even sanitize our dishes, but somehow the sick always finds us.

I started feeling bad on Tuesday night, come Wednesday mid-morning, it was all I could do to dismiss my class and go home. It’s pretty much a blur from then to now. I spent most of the time on the couch, in bed, or on the toilet (hey, no one said blogging was pretty). But, just as quickly as it came, it’s gone. Thank God.

I have a few entries on the back burner, we’ll see if I can get caught up this weekend.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

An artistic and scholarly collaboration

Social networking has gotten kind of a bad rap lately with people o.d’ing on other people’s info. I have been on Livejournal for a while and was on Facebook about four years ago at the invite of one of my students. I got sick of the random pokes and pictures of keggers. I didn’t know many folks on Facebook, so I dropped my account after a few months. I dabbled in Myspace for a bit, as it seems that most of my students were on there and that place could serve as my unofficial office/conference room. I left Myspace seeing as I was one of the oldest persons on there and felt kind of like the guy in a trench coat outside a school yard.

While I love the venue on Live Journal, I enjoy the immediacy of Facebook a bit more. Point in case: last week and my working on a presentation for my art history class. I had talked with Bill Pusztai (Bitterlawngnome) about using his Bacchus in my presentation on Baroque art. He obliged and now he’s part of my lecture. But I wanted to add more, so I went over to LJ and started going through the gazillion entries he has posted. After an hour, I decided I needed to be more proactive, so I went to Facebook, and there he was in chat. So I asked him if I could have some more pictures and a great conversation started. He sent me a zip file of a dozen or more pictures, including the haunting picture of Seumas H with the poppies and black cape. It sent shivers down the backs of my students when his image was blown up on the screen in the lecture hall.

I am honored that Bill has allowed me the ability to share his work with my classes. Since we are so rural here in Mid-Michigan, the chance for my students to get out and see art like this is rare. I am glad to be the bringer of such greatness to their opening art minds. You can see more of Bill’s work on his website, but we warned, there are naked people, so proceed with caution.

Thanks Bill.


p.s. No, I am not going to get a Twitter account. My life is far too complicated for their limited postings.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A toy story

My apologies go out to Phil Wrzesinski and his fine staff at the Toy House here in Jackson. Yes, we have spent thousands of dollars at your great store, but in reality, all the kids want is a clean cardboard box to play with.

For real, nothing else.

Our deprived kids only have one floor in the house devoted to their toys, the poor dears have to climb up three stories our spacious attic to play with the few toys that they have and then, they are so stressed out they only play with a few of the hundreds of choices available.

We hear Bono is working on a benefit concert for them.

Yes, I know that we have to be a catalyst to make some of the toys “work” for play time, but even when we do get involved, they tend to migrate away and either go towards our computer, or look for something totally inappropriate to play with (power strips, trash, Wii remotes, empty wine glasses, etc). This afternoon, Tod brought in a box from a recent WOOT purchase and handed it to me as a gift. He mentioned that it was something that I could share with Anna if I wanted, so I gleefully opened it and found an interactive DJ Lance Rock (from Yo Gabba Gabba) Hat and glasses. You pressed the little device on the fuzzy fez and it barked out its disco commands. Well, if the hat fit, I’d probably still be down there playing with it, but it was obviously made for smaller craniums and I quickly grew bored. Anna wore it for a bit, and fought with Eli for the glasses, but in a few moments the hat was tossed on the counter and the box was discovered by the recycling.

Then the fun started.

I love the fact that Tod knows I love YG2 and its denizens, and I am thankful for the fun fez, but in reality, the cardboard box provided more hands on fun time than the fez will ever see. This past Christmas, during one of the many gift orgies we attended, Anna gleefully shouted “BUBBLEWRAP!” as she unwrapped one of her presents, tossing the fragile gift aside to promptly begin popping bubbles. Note to grandparents and other family, shop for Anna at your local post office or shipping store.

I grow weary of the stack of toys accumulating in the attic, many of which fit the Toy House’s model of good, long-lasting toys, some of which remain untouched most of the time. I grow weary thinking of all the money spent on these toys and how that money could be put to good use elsewhere, and I grow weary thinking that my kids are going to grow up as the new consumer; casually tossing aside what bores them for the next big thing.

I want them to find the fun and excitement that my brother and I found with our Muppet Puppets and Tonka Toys. I want them to obsess over Legos like we did and create strange and wonderful creations. I am not sure if it’s an age thing or if it’s a territorial thing, but they are still getting used to playing with each other these days. It’s only been six months since Eli moved in, but it appears that all the wonderful gifts we received at Eli’s adoption party could have been replaced with an empty cardboard box.

For more information on the greatest toy store on earth, please check out Phil’s family store at:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

14 years ago today

It may seem odd to rehash old posts already, as the blog isn’t that old. But so many have asked us how we met and how long we have been together that I thought I would share this post again.
It was 14 years ago today I met the man of my dreams. So much has changed in that time; it hardly seems possible that all this time has flown by.

The picture is from our Commitment Ceremony back in 2001, look at us, so young, so carefree… not a care in the world.
So, if you want the scoop on how we met, take a step back in time to 2009 and reread this post:
Still waiting for Tod to chime in with his side of the story.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Daddy/Papa and Daughter Dance: Beyonce' remix edition

When we walked in to the Jackson Parks and Rec’s Annual Daddy/Daughter Dance this weekend, Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” was thumping from the speakers on the dance floor. I had to giggle as I peered into the darkened convention center and saw a teeming mass of cuteness bobbing up and down to this tiresome song. Oh sure, it was fun the first time you heard it and the first 4,000 tribute dance videos were fun too. But to see this much unbridled glee was energizing. I questioned the appropriateness of this song for a dance aimed at 3 to 16 year olds, but I quickly reminded myself to NOT be one of those Dads. We got in line and got our picture taken, after all, we did look pretty spiffy (see picture... and, can you spot Eli?) After that, we headed into the noise and began looking for Anna’s BFF Chloe (who, it turns out, didn’t get a ticket in time). We found a friend from school and all was good. We danced, we ran around, we lost Anna for a brief and terrifying moment, and we wished we would have brought earplugs. Honestly Miley Cyruss sucks at any level, but when cranked up to 11, the suck begins to hurt.

These past few weeks have been rough at home, as the crud that is going around has been lingering at our house longer than I expected. One gets better, another gets sick. We’re tired, we’re sick, we’re not feeling all the best and that can make things tense and crazy. However, this night, with Eli at home with the grandparents, we were able to go out and have a good time together. As we moved around the hall dancing and bobbing along to the music, I saw many different Daddies and Daughters, some were older, and some were younger. Some were all spiffed up; others apparently just rolled out of bed and came as they were. I saw a young girl of about 15 in a red carpet worthy gown, her hair done up in a perfect glamour girl “do” topped with a lovely tiara. Her older father followed behind this young diva with a smile that said “I am so proud of my daughter right now I could burst!” Never mind the fact that the girl had Down syndrome, she was rockin’ the look and was takin’ names with her fabulousness. I had to turn away as I saw a very young Dad holding his daughter as they danced. The chemotherapy was obviously taking its toll on this girl’s body, as she was a little, bald, bag of bones in her lovely dress and father’s arms. She looked so happy and glad to be there, it made a lump rise up in my throat as I thought about what must be going through her Dad’s mind. I said a quick prayer of thanks that my girl was healthy and well and chided myself for all the times I yelled at her. There was also a Dad with the back of his shaved head tattooed with a flaming skull. From the front, he and his 13 year old or so daughter looked like any other Daddy/Daughter combo in the room. They kind of hung back against the wall, and danced to that Miley, “Party in the USA” song without abandon when it came on for the 5th time that night. Love is unconditional, and love is something we often forget to express to those around us.

As we drove to the restaurant downtown for after dance drinks and to show off our outfits, Anna burst out an “I LOVE YOU GUYS!” from the backseat of the car. I had to steady my hands on the wheel as I stole a look at my little girl all decked out in her pink Sunday-go-to-church coat, a very similar shade to the pink in the dragon suit that vexed us the other night. Parenting isn’t easy, but loving your kids is… take advantage of it any time you can.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Greenwood Avenue: Where the Wild thing is.

The night Anna wore her dragon suit and made mischief of one kind and another her Papa called her “WILD THING!” and Anna said “I’LL EAT YOU UP!” so she was sent to bed without eating anything.

It was a gift from a former student, and for a long time, it hung in her play area ignored except for Halloween and when she was bored with her other gowns. Last night, she donned the pink dragon suit and spent much of the night growling and pretending to scratch and claw at the air. While we are happy that she is comfortable being both the princess and the dragon during playtime, we were NOT happy with her behavior as the night wore on. We convinced her to change out of the costume and she did for dinner, but the mentality stuck with her and affected her behavior as we tried to eat. The battles that we face each night with the kids start around 4:30 as they both want a snack and our undivided attention while we are working on transitioning from work and getting dinner ready ourselves. If we stop and play or snuggle, or watch TV with them, then dinner is delayed, and the evening gets longer and longer. But if we don’t give them %100, then the attention grabbing behavior starts. So we try to strike a balance and I have actually become pretty adept at creating meals that can be reheated while I focus on the kids, but that’s not always the case.

Last night, after a day at home doing errands, Anna’s behavior was escalating to eleven on the naughty dial. She was out of her routine because of the snow day plus she didn’t take a nap, a nasty combination for sure. A few time outs and stern warnings didn’t change her behavior at the table, so after outlining the consequences, going immediately to her room for the night, she tested us once again.

She should know better. She lives with two teachers.

If you test us, you will fail.

So after the warnings and then some farting around with her green beans, she was whisked upstairs, not passing GO, not collecting $200.

Straight to bed.

And, before you call protective services, she did eat; she just didn’t finish her meal all the way and definitely no dessert. But once up in her room, she saw a moment to escape and darted, no, FLEW downstairs to hide. This is the kid who can take 20 minutes to go down the steps in the morning when she doesn’t want to do something. She was down in a flash with her 40-something Papa in hot pursuit (no really, at this point, I was sweating). This time, I put her on the ground and straddled her so I could get her PJ’s on. I guess watching all that WWF finally paid off. And, again, before you dial protective services, I was NOT sitting on her. But at this point, she was completely out of control and beyond any kind of reason. I got her dressed and put her into bed and then the screaming started. She loves an audience, but when you leave, she knows that the show is over and reality sets in. I was serious about my threat; I was serious about her going to bed if she continued to act up at the table and I followed through with it. If I had just ignored her, I would have failed her test. While there are some battles to pick, dinner time is not one that we are willing to concede.

So this morning, I opened her door and woke her up asking if she was going to be my best girl today. She hugged me and said, “Papa… yes!” and then went back under the covers to wait for Eli to come in and wake her up (it’s their thing, don’t ask). I asked her at breakfast if she was going to be better than she was last night at dinner and she looked at me with a questioning whatchootalkin’about Willis face. Apparently, last night was last night and she is ready to move on, and so am I. It’s hard to focus on the fun times with kids when stuff like this happens, but kids have incredibly short and forgiving memories.

Perhaps we should follow their lead.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Follow me!

We are almost at 60 followers for the blog! You can do me and the blog a favor by suggesting to your friends and family that they follow along as well. Also, if you are involved in any LGBT groups or organizations, please send them this link. The more the merrier!

When Tod and I were first considering adopting, we went to the Internetz and found a treasure trove of information from blogs and the like. We wanted to return the help by creating this blog as a way to share our experiences with other potential parents.

We hope you like what you read and will consider sharing it with those in your life. And, as a favor to your blog-meister… how did you all hear about this blog? Do me a favor and chime in with a comment and let me know how you found out about us.



A great post from a great friend... read and share!

State must recognize committed same-sex couples
Jackson Citizen Patriot

Cynthia Landrum 

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, our thoughts naturally go to the subject of love. Many loving couples will get engaged or married to celebrate their commitment. But there are a lot of loving couples in our community who cannot celebrate in this way because of our state's limitations on same-sex marriage.
Many of the same-sex couples that I know are in relationships that have lasted longer than my marriage. These couples are raising children. They own houses together; they are an asset to our community. They are in every significant way like my husband and me, except under the law.

The majority of Americans now believe in something we call "civil unions," and are willing to give same-sex couples the same rights that we give to heterosexual couples. For some, however, the sticking point comes with calling this "marriage." In many countries, civil marriage and religious marriage are separate. It's because of our combination of the two that this is such a contentious issue. For example, as a minister, I perform a state function when I sign marriage licenses. In many other countries, religious ceremonies have no legal function.

Civil marriage or civil union is a civil right. And if we gave the same rights to civil union that we give to civil marriage, there really wouldn't be a problem with calling it "union." But doing so is logistically impossible, with differing state and international laws. And these same-sex partnerships really are marriages in every meaningful way. The same-sex couples I know have marriages that are every bit as real, loving, committed and important as the marriages of the heterosexuals in our community. And there is in no way that these loving relationships threaten the institution of marriage. If marriage as an institution is threatened, it is by those who take it casually, which is done by heterosexuals all the time. None of the same-sex couples I know take the issue of marriage casually at all.

Religious marriage, on the other hand, is a sacrament of the church or other religious institution. Since we have separation of church and state, religious beliefs should have no bearing on civil marriage. People often mistakenly believe that if we legalize civil marriage for same-sex couples, then ministers who object will be forced to perform those marriages. This is simply not true. A minister can refuse to perform any marriage, for any reason, but particularly when he or she has religious objections. Several years ago, when I was a minister in Massachusetts, I signed a vow saying that I wouldn't sign any marriage licenses until the state allowed me to sign them for same-sex couples as well. Happily, I was able to sign some of those licenses before I left the state to come home to Michigan.
I would expect that if same-sex marriages were legalized, many ministers might similarly refuse to be agents of the state when they believe the state's actions are wrong. This is one of the privileges of freedom of religion, and I respect their right to not perform same-sex marriage. Likewise, I am proud to stand on the side of love on this issue and perform same-sex marriages in our community, whether the state recognizes them or not. Marriage is a bond of love, a sacred trust between two people. Any couple taking this vow seriously and able to make this commitment to each other deserves the legal benefits of marriage. As a community and state, we need to stand on the side of love.

— The Rev. Cynthia Landrum is minister of the Universalist Unitarian Church of East Liberty.

S N O W D A Y ! ! ! !

We got hammered last night for sure, with snow that is. The college actually closed early, dropping all the evening classes. This was both good and bad, as we didn't have class last Tuesday night due to a day of workshops. While it is good to be home with the family, I have students who will now be three weeks behind.

The college rarely closes, in the ten years I have been there, we have closed three times, two for weather and one on September 11, 2001. I had a conversation with a student about how she had to drive so far in this shitty weather and she asked, "what does it take to get this college to close?" I mentioned A LOT of snow and a terrorist attack.

She didn't look happy.

So today will be spent hanging out with the family, and possibly heading out to the Casacades to hit the slopes with Miss Anna. If the cable holds out, we'll catch up on TV and play the Wii. Life is good.