Friday, March 26, 2010

Pictures of you

The Real Men’s Project ( is a group and initiative that is working to stop the cycle of domestic and sexual violence in Jackson and beyond. It is a group lead by our good friend and Ally, Dani Meier. His dedication to issues of violence and of homophobia make him a hero in many of our eyes. He is tireless in his pursuit of helping and assisting the LGBT community, and raising a little hell while he’s at it (which is just one of the reasons we love him!). Did I mention he’s a handsome devil too? But I digress.

Dani recently encouraged me to submit a photo for a photo contest promoting fatherhood and non-violence (see the website for details and entries in the gallery section). Since I am big art and publicity whore, I started thinking about it right away, but then Tod and I started having conversations about just how much publicity we want our children to have, especially in this arena. After some dinner talks, Tod drafted this letter:

Hi Dani,

We appreciate all the work you do for the Real Men Project and promoting non-violence. Tom and I have discussed the photo contest and based on the history of how our children came to us, we are not comfortable putting them out there for such a public display. Anna is the amazingly beautiful outcome of a terrible event, her mother was sexually assaulted when she was only 15 years old by a stranger. Eli was taken away from his parents because of abuse and neglect. We realize that we should celebrate that they are now in a safe environment, but we are still not comfortable putting them out there in a contest such as this one. Especially with Eli, whose parents still live in Jackson but don't know who we are or that we even live in Jackson.

Tod & Tom

Dani was disappointed (as he knows about my mad photography skillz) but he understood. However, a few days ago, the image below came up on my screensaver and I knew I had my potential winning photograph.

Please to enjoy.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Teach your parents well

Things that I have learned since becoming a parent:

I Carly is pretty damn funny. No, really, it is. Her brother Spencer is a riot and her BFF Sam is a mini-version of Sam on Sex in the City. Honestly, how many ‘tweens actually say: “Momma likes the meat!” Oh, and Carly’s love interest Freddie is damn cute. And before you call Chris Hansen, he’s 20. Relax.

Imagination Movers: Two of them are smokin’ hot and make our morning breakfast TV much more interesting. I will let you Google them and make your own decisions.

Snow white is indeed the fairest of them all. You other Disney Princesses better step down NOW.

Kid's band aides are the bomb. I love going to work with Handy Manny on my boo boos. Added bonus, they actually stick.

Time is not yours. This is a shocker. The good thing is, people understand when you have kids between 2 and 5 and cut you slack. Not sure how this will play when they are older, milking it for all it’s worth now.

The Wiggles are annoying. Thankfully Anna only requested them once and we moved on. Although Wiggle Anthony is hot, the rest of the show is a trainwreck.

Kid’s hair products reek of rotten fruit and/or Jolly Ranchers left in your car in the summer. No one wants to smell rotten green apples first thing in the morning. Ever.

I simply can’t imagine a life without wipes at my beck and call at this point. Seriously, I think we have a pack and/or travel pack in every room in our house. Not to mention our cars.

Aldi is a godsend. Thanks to our good friend Bonnie, I have joined the cult of Aldi. I grab my quarter and shopping bags each week and dive into the somewhat surreal world of German/Ghetto shoppin’. Until I can get a cow that gives me both whole and 2% milk, I will continue to buy our staples there. Mental note: stay away on the first of the month.

Sunday school restoreth my soul. After the kiddies leave each Sunday, a certain sense of calm descends upon me in the sanctuary of our church.

Library fines, they tend to go up as the kids spread their books far and wide after bringing them home from the library.

What have YOU learned?

I asked this question to my Facebook peeps and put it on the TwoDads website for consideration. Here is what came in:


I truly learned what unconditional love is...and am now able to share it with my partner.

How unbelievable fierce love can be. Now I understand what my mom meant when she said I would always be her "baby".

However annoying I thought our mobile song was, I LOVE the tune now that it keeps baby girl smiling for a half hour. In fact, I even hum it around the house now...

I learned to celebrate every day and make live an amazing, passionate journey!!

I really can function on 6 hours of sleep!

I learned that having a tonka-tough daredevil of a little girl is way more fun that having the little boy i *thought* i wanted :) Oh, and Yo Gabba Gabba is pretty awesome, too.

Having Kermie renewed my love of cartoons and Parker led me to Yo Gabba GAbba through you

That you can blame any of your embarrassing shows on "I watch it for the kids, they like it.

Thanks to Ni Hao Kai-Lan, I can now say "thank you" and "grandfather" in Chinese! Who says children's programing isn't educational...

I read somewhere that parenthood is the same stress level as starting a new job every day. You are always learning and never know what to expect!

It's so not about me anymore

That quiet children are naughty

Sesame Street-best show on T.V. and quiet usually means trouble and a big mess to clean up.

Have to leave the bathroom door open a bit so you can hear what they're up to

That the capacity with which I loved prior to my children coming into my life was shockingly shallow. They have given me a depth to my feelings that I didn't know existed. Oh, and that a child can learn all the choreography and lyrics to a song on Hi-5 after one or two viewings and will roll their eyes at you because you can't.

Thanks to all who shared! My tattoo on my back says: Ancora Imparo, which, roughly translated from the Italian is: Still, I learn. Great words and so very true when you have kids.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Last house on the right

I don’t know whether to be happy or sad about this…

One of Anna’s buds, a very creative and talented six year old told me today that he thought our house was spooky. This is a young boy who loves science fiction and all things weird and crazy. Mind you, he thought that the human skull I have in our library was pretty cool, but was more interested in one of Eli’s toys that was on the shelf next to it.

I am torn between being thrilled and being worried that indeed our house may be too scary for little kids.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Toy Story 2

A few weeks ago, I lamented about how our poor, deprived children haven’t a thing to play with in this house and have to settle for a cardboard box. The little darlings have so little to entertain themselves with, it’s just a tragedy. However, they do have one toy that never fails to bring the kids to the yard, and that is the very cool Crazy Forts! The box states:

Just add bed sheets for endless fun (or just get a king sized sheet and be done with it)

Durable - Portable - Easy to build (if you have an engineering degree)

Promotes collaborative play between boys and girls (whatever that means)

Add on more sets for even more fun! (Drop some more cash our way!)

We bought this for the kids for Christmas, as they love building forts at daycare and elsewhere. The concept is straightforward and fun. It’s basically a giant Tinker Toy set that you snap together to create a frame for your own bed sheet. It’s that simple.

Oh sure, when I was a kid, we had to use Grandma’s card table and a quilt, but times have changed, and this is a welcome addition. The reviews on Amazon are split with some parents lamenting that it’s too hard for the kids to do on their own. While one grandma actually complained about the fact that there wasn’t a bed sheet included in the box (really?) It’s not cheap, but it lasts and has staying power, which is the sign of a good toy. Yes, with younger kids it takes some adult leadership, but that only adds to the fun. Be glad this doesn’t involve Dora or one of the Disney Princesses.

We had friends come in this weekend for an end of winter play date and we broke out the Crazy Fort! to occupy the kids while we made breakfast. Rob volunteered to be the architect/builder and dutifully listened to his whiney client’s needs. After some revisions the structure was built, old sheet added and then the fun began. Eli tends to be the destroyer, and spent the better part of the morning trying to bring down what Rob had built. But once he crawled in, the fun started. Add a cheap flashlight, and you’re good to go.

Now, before you all think that this will replace daycare, it won’t. No toy can do that (yet). But do know that this toy has staying power and we look forward to having it around for a long time.

Monday, March 8, 2010

What's in a name?

We got into a discussion about our children’s names this weekend after I yelled “Anna Laura! GET DOWN!” at the park. Our house guest remarked that her name was beautiful and asked of its origins ignoring her rather dangerous behavior on the park equipment. When we began the adoption process, we knew that we might have the chance to name our child, especially if we were matched with a new born. We put together a spread sheet of all of our family names and tech wizard Tod began matching up names with names, both male and female with the help of the program. We began with the female family names and our search quickly ended when Anna and Laura came up together in the cell. Anna is my mother’s mom’s name, and Laura is Tod’s mom’s name, it just seemed right that we honor our mom’s with this name. Now don’t get us wrong, we love our paternal grandmothers as well, but Bessie Martha doesn’t exactly flow off the tongue.

If we were matched with a boy, we would have named him Dylan Robert. As some of you may know, Tod’s father is Robert, but we were going for Dylan Thomas, the Welsh writer and Robert Burns, the Bard of Scotland with the boy’s name. All of the family names on the boy side weren’t as lyrical as Anna Laura and some were just downright weird. Mind you, we have names such as Grover, Marvin, Reo, and Lyle to work with, so we passed. Eli came to us already named, and at 18 months, we didn’t want to change his name to fit our wants, even though the social worker said we could. We did however, do some editing. Eli’s birthparents chose the spelling “Elija” dropping the H from the traditional biblical spelling. He also had two middle names, and since we have a hyphenated last name we didn’t want to burden him with a name that takes up two lines. So we opted to legally change his middle name to Patrick, in honor of Patrick Sullivan, an amazing young man who left us too soon. Patrick is the nephew of our neighbor Nancy. He was often at Nancy’s and loved being around Anna when he could. Anna would stand at the backdoor and look out into Nancy’s yard and call out “Patwick!” Patwick!” Patrick had a great way with kids and had her convinced that he knew SpongeBob (since his name was Patrick). He was also a continual source of doggy angst for our dog Yukon. So we decided that this would be a fitting tribute to this man who loved kids and would have made a great dad some day.

I know that the Thomas part of my name comes from my two uncles, Raymond (Tom) Holdgreve, and Thomas Michael Oakley. So what’s your name all about?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Mistaken Identity

I was at Meijer last night, grocery list in hand, picking up items for our weekend. Tod stayed at home with the kids to expedite me getting the task done in a timely manner. When I approached the self checkout lane, I was crossing off items to make sure I didn’t miss anything while the person in front of me finished up. There was a giant box of diapers in the seat where Eli normally sits and the rest of the cart was full of groceries.

The lady working the lanes looked at me and made a remark about how I was a dutiful husband, out doing the shopping for the wife who is at home with the kids. She then remarked that I better get everything on “her” list or I would be in trouble. She LOL’d and ribbed the other worker in an attempt to gain her agreement on her assessment.

I reached in my pocket and turned off my Ipod and then I let her know that I was the one who made the shopping list and my husband was at home watching our two kids while I did the shopping. I then handed her the bottle of Captain Morgan and asked her to take the security device off the bottle, giving her my best STFU stare.

She didn’t say another word to me. I don’t mind being mistaken for heterosexual; just don’t make a big deal out of it okay?