Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Okay so check out this awesome song (via Up Popped a Fox) written in its entirety by the performer. It is incredible.

I wonder if he'd write one for me--some adult version--to sing at the reunion?

Twenty Years Later

This summer is my twentieth high school reunion.

I know that it is trite, but it seems, both, like that day in May when we were all scattered to the wind was yesterday and that it was lifetimes ago.

BioMom is being a real sport and we are attending the reunion in rural Nebraska where I'm from, so I am busy formulating answers to the usual assorted questionnaire; what did you do the first ten years? the second? plans for the next ten?

At some level, these questions are impossible for anyone to answer. How do you sum up the past twenty years of your life? How do you do this in a way that anyone will give a rat's ass about?

For me, though, this feels particularly challenging. So much so that in past years (the fifth and tenth reunions) I made up--literally invented--entire scripts about my life's experiences.

I find the task difficult not just because of the actual experiences that I have had since high school. For example, I came out post-high school and I am writing with an audience in mind that has, in its majority, not left that rural setting (not that, I'm sure my impending coming out was not expected by all). Not just because I was forced to leave my chosen institution of higher learning at the midpoint of my junior year because I was a lesbian (it was before Clinton and they asked, so I told). Not just because my dad committed suicide a few years after commencement. Not just because my partner and I ordered sperm off of the internet and had some spawn. Not because I am mostly a stay at home mom/dad with a somewhat odd career that includes teaching a couple of days a week and doing research the other days about strange questions that pop into my head.

No. I think its just that weird feeling that my life is some bizarro reverse imprint of a leave-it-to-beaver episode. I've tiptoed around this feeling on this blog now for a few years and I think that my perspective is a bit different than other lesbian parenthood blogs out there. It is not that I feel that what we are, how our family is structured, how it came to be, who are kids are, etc. is wrong or bad somehow. It is just a little, well, different. My mom, had she lived, would have been 87 years old this year. What would she have thought about me being a lesbian having kids via donor insemination? It's not that I care what people think as much as this is sounding. It's just that sometimes I wake up and think to myself, how did this happen? How did all of these people get here? It's just that when you go about explaining the nitty-gritty details well, they sound almost super-natural coming out of my mouth. Furthermore, as I have discussed also on this blog, I have lots of questions about our kids and they questions they will likely have. It all just fascinates me and the answers are not easy or obvious. Even the fact that there are questions at all lends more credence to my bizarro-world impression.

So there you have it.

I'm opening this up to readers. How would you answer those questions? What kind of answers would you like to read of your own high school cohort? My first instinct is to be truthful but humorous and self-depricating. I'll post my answers once they're written. Your comments are welcome and neeeded!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) calls here regularly asking for BioMom and, I suspect, some of her cash. As she works at the office quite a bit more than do I, I am ususally the person answering the phone and she is rarely here for me to pass it on to her.

Today, for the second time, I pointed out the irony to the caller that he again refuses to talk to me despite the fact that I am her partner, am home, am ready and willing to talk on the phone to the HRC people, that she will probably never be around during calling hours and even if she is will probably be unwilling to chat on the phone about HRC business, and finally that we share the checkbook and therefore the membership, regardless of what it says on the call sheet.

You'd think an organization purporting to be promoting the rights of GLBT-etc. people would get this.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Vehicle Day

First, I'm posting a few pictures from "Vehicle Day" where Big got to explore the insides of some fire engines, a city bus, a police car and a 'Simon Delivers' truck (?).

We took our first trip down the "car aisle" at Target the other day. Prior to this, I wouldn't have believed you if you told me that there were equivalently hideous boy-toys out there, so enamored was I with all of the boy paraphernalia that comes with having a kid of that particular sex. I had romanticized it all. Trucks, balls, guys etc., all active and, in my mind, somehow related to things that we do in the world. This was in contrast to the disembodied Barbie head for hair-brushing and makover practicing (???) we received from one here unnamed Godfather to Seven.

But there are, to my horror, tripped out cars that make loud, annoying noises when pushed, accompanied by their own hard-rock sound track. (To get a sample, just follow the link below and don't forget to turn the sound down on your computer).

Big was in heaven.

He got his first pack of Hot Wheels trucks after attending one of Seven's soccer games last week and pining over another kid's set which, incidently, kept them both busy for the entire game.

While playing with him, I would make the noise of the 'rescue vehicles'; the fire engine's telling "WEEE-OOOO-WEEE-OOO-WEEE-OOO!" So enraptured was he, that he began to imitate me, but a clumsy backwards: "OOO-WEEE-OOOO-WEEE-OOO-WEEE!" that has now become our family's audible moniker for all fire engines.

Second, I found a great blog for all you teachers and professors out there. Check this out!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Dialectical Ultra-Capitalist and Utopian-Socialist Worlds of Children's Accessories

This weekend was the one devoted to the Kingfield neighborhood garage sales--a favorite of ours.

On the way home from one of her myriad Saturday events, Seven and I got sidetracked following an orange sign with "Toys" hastily scribbled and an arrow suggesting a northerly direction. We'd slow down as we passed several sales along the way to what we imagined would be the FAO-Schwartz of garage sales, tables and racks of mismatched clothes piled on tables, the faded primary-colored plastic remnants of tricycle and big-wheel has-beens strewn across lawns, last chosen team members at the end of a long-day of tryouts (it was approaching the end of the garage-sale day, 9-3 and homeowners were anxious to peddle their wares and head inside to the shade and comfort of their couches, hoping to carry a little as possible back inside).

Children's accessories (clothing, toys and loads of other necessary baby gear) seem to be of two distinct markets: ultra-capitalistic or utopian-socialistic in nature.

Every city now comes standard with their boutique baby and maternity shops (my link is to only one example), catering to the new parents (or newly expecting parents) or gift givers, funky t-shirts in stock (Jaffa/Oink! Baby for Boys -- $28! or the fair trade version of your "Milk on the Rocks" onesy -- $25 with 0.00001% going to the woman in Guatemala who sewed it), bottle gagetry that you didn't know you needed (Shakeaway Latte Travel Bottle with Hoodie! $5 and $7), and, of course the store is not complete without a rainbow of Bugaboo Strollers (starting at $759 with free shipping). Note that the websites of such stores usually contain a "most popular" link so that you can not only consume conspicuously, but you can make sure that you're consuming at least as much as your online neighbor whom you'll likely never meet. A virtual Jones' horserace.

On the other hand, every parent eventually comes to the reality that they've had their last kid and the boxes of clothes and toys are beginning to take over the basement. The most ambitious of these clan become expert eBay entrepreneurs, while the others join the annual garage sale, hoping to garner enough wages (clearly not counting their opportunity cost, for who in their right mind would spend an entire saturaday afternoon netting less per hour than when they head to the office Monday through Friday?) to cover a babysitter, dinner and a movie that night.

A third and final category of parent seeks out the person on whom they can lavish little packages of their "gently used" wares, someone to lovingly adopt their beloved's erstwhile posessions, ghosts of their smaller, more innocent selves. Evidence of their growth and pending independence. Harbingers of future emptied nests.

These three categories represent exchanges of course, not unlike those at the new baby niche stores, but not at the premium cost. Even in the third case there is an implied reciprocity, a gift certificate perhaps, or at the very least an assumed promise to pass on the goods yet again. (Oh, and I've overlooked a fourth category: the take-it-to-the-curb-and-put-a-"free"-sign-on-it. Trucks of this variety have been known to show up mysteriously in my car and, have, somehow made their way into our house. Goods of this variety are sure to be of substandard value; either incomplete, dilapidated or quite dirty.)

The market is dichotemously bimodal in this sense, I believe, because the goods are unique in at least three ways.

First, while somewhat durable, most baby/children's clothes will most likely be grown-out-of before they will be worn out. In our case, Big has only recently fit into clothes for more than four months at a time, especially considering the change in seasons. Parents end up with loads of too-small clothes or juvenile toys in the house that, unlike their own clothes that we can delude ourselves into fitting into again in the future, will never fit again and not just becouse they are no longer in style.

Second, babies represent a highly social gift-giving opportunity: not unlike a wedding or an engagement people feel obligated to and excited to give friends gifts for new babies.

Lastly, the occasion can be even more highly charged if it is a couple's first, or last, or if conception was challenging in some way.

While I've been known to shop in all categories of children's goods and am the happy regular recipient of regular hand-me-down care packages, Seven and I kicked some garage-sale arse this weekend. Items included: one potty for Big (yes, given our history, this is HIGHLY optimistic (you can't win the lottery without a ticket I'm told). I'm just hoping to plant a little seed of an idea in his head), one garage equipt with various vehicles and a veritable village of community members and mechanics, one baby doll with blanket and bedding, one leapster magnetic letter reader, the book, by local author Kate DiCamillo Because of Winn Dixie, and, Big's favorite, a Barbie bicycle.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Idol Finale Party: All Are Welcome

BioMom and Seven are hosting a neighborhood "Idol Finale" party.

Note that I said "they".

Once she got the "go ahead" from BioMom about the party she started dreaming up the invitations, who she would invite, the dress code, etc. etc.

On the way to school yesterday BioMom had a serious heart-to-heart with her about how they were only going to be able to invite a few people from the neighborhood; our house is small, pizza is expensive, etc. etc. This conversation was in response to the enormous list of girls, teachers, and school administrators that Seven had planned to invite to the soiree that day.

BioMom: We can invite those girls individually for play dates instead if you would like.
Seven (brushing this off): Okay. . . Okay. . .

Yesterday afternoon, Big and I walked up to Seven's school (I refer to it as Hogwarts as it has a castle-feel to it) to pick her up. As she packed up her backpack, I noticed a large number of hand-made cards and a list of about twenty people, several of whom had checks by their names.

Me: What's that?
She: Oh, its a list of people I've invited to the party!

That night BioMom had planned on bribing the kids with fast Greek food and an ice cream in exchange for spending a little time at the local gardening shop. On the way there, BioMom explained to Seven again, that the party would remain open to only neighbors. Seven was in tears. She had, as suspected, invited all of the girls in the first grade in addition to her teachers, several students from other grades and a few administrators to the "Idol Party". BioMom talked about calling all of the parents and explaining the situation. Seven bawled: Can't I just have a FEW people from school? This conversation went on for a good 45 minutes.

We spent too much time at the gardening store and had two kids-on-the edge slurping small vanilla cones in the back seat of BioMom's car as she did all she could to control herself watching Big's car seat turn white as the ice cream dripped all over his chin and fist, and onto his lap.

Seven, on the other hand, recognizes the inherent value on the DQ cone, unwilling to let any escape her clutches, licked and sung unrecognizeable songs to herself as we wound our way around the lake to our house. At one point we heard her announce (possibly to herself):

Mrs. Picard's coming to my Idol Party!!!!!

BioMom and I looked at each other with exclamation points above our head.

Apparently one's short term memory worsens as one approaches the pre-teen years.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Happy Birthday Mof4!

"My Family Loves Me"

I just received via email the most darling e-book.

It is a collection of personal drawings of kids in GLBT families.

You can find a link to it here.

Seven entered into the contest with a little drawing of her own. Sometimes you just get lucky and stumble on something great. Thanks to Jennifer Chrisler of "Family Pride" in Washington for coordinating the wonderful 'event'!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Cease and Inhale the Bouganvallia

I have been, thus far, extremely nonchalant and unconcerned about the relative lack of language development in Big. Relative to his still loquacious sister who, at his age was speaking plenty. At one point, whilst enjoying my morning coffee in the kitchen with BioMom and Seven (then 18 - 24 months, I'm not exactly sure when it was) I asked BioMom "What words doesn't she have?" BioMom responded: "I don't think any!" I then pointed to the microwave and the refrigerator an the girl had no clue as to what they were. A doll, however, who had lost her head, was referred to regularly as having been "decapatated."

There's just something blissfull about Big's lack of language.

Sure, he grunts and points and whines and squeels at things that he wants or injustices that he feels the need to express. But there's just something so, well, ambiguous about his desires that somehow refuses to assign responsibility to me to help him meet those wants. Sure, I might have a feeling that his insistent grunt and pointy finger means that he would prefer to be allowed to run into the middle of the street, but without language, I can mistake it for something else, perhaps a ball in the yard, and walk toward that instead of the moving vehicles, and soon, he is distracted.

A neighbor of our's little girl, a bit older than Big, has, of late, become quite gregarious. She is transitioning her to a half day or so of day care per week. Last week was her first day and I asked how it went. She said that her daughter, once they were again reunited (after only an hour or so) repeated "Mommy stay!"

I just don't want to hear Big say "Please don't leave me in my crib tonight, Baba! I'm terrified of being alone!" or something else to break my heart in two.

I fear, however, that the end of my blissful ignorance is near. Today at the park, Big walked up to said neighbor with a seeding dandelion* and said, in the clearest, highest-pitched pre-pubescent voice: "Flower."

It was so spontaneous and sweet. Another reminder to stop and smell them.

I fear most of all, for BioMom and I and, especially for Seven (upon whom he blames most perceived injustices), the negatives of his language development. This weekend for Mother's Day Lynn Johnston, writer and illustrator of For Better or For Worse, posted the following cartoon. The moral of the story? Get in all your road trips prior to the full development of the siblings' langugage.

*which is called, I just learned, a 'dandelion clock'. Wikipedia tells us that blowing this 'clock' apart is "a popular activity for children worldwide." In Germany, they call it a Pusteblume, translation: "blow flower." Not unlike the question, 'How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?', the question about how many blows required to 'completely rid the clock of its seeds' is also asked around the world and is said to relate to the time of day.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Irregular Monthly Newsletter: 17 Months

This past month was the one where everyone notices, somehow, a discrete change in your height/weight/maturity. That month where people say "Boy, he's gotten big!"

You're definitely a little boy now, not our 'baby'.

And you know that about yourself as well. You are increasingly uninterested in sitting in dinner seats that look different than the rest or in cups with lids on them (although you will more often than not purposefully pour the liquid in the topless cups all over your front and, even while cringing from the probably-chilly drink, giggle at whoever is looking over at you, aghast).

You're starting to have little 'fits' when things don't go your way, but luckily you seem to understand the ridiculousness of the behavior, and it doesn't go on for long.

We avoid nice restaurants with you now.

Your soccer skills are improving as we attend your big sister's games and you can't be cooped up in the backpack, so we spend the hour kicking soccer balls back and forth.

But what trumps balls are bikes. I had an idea about your love of bikes, but when we ran into a bike-riding friend of mine after a long ride with his beautiful Trek and all of the awesome associated accoutrements, you went ape; touching, feeling, exploring and, ultimately, attempting to climb into the saddle. As he walked away with it, and us the opposite direction, I recalled that final scene in Casablanca as Bogart watched Bergman get into the plane and fly away from him. As I held Big (he couldn't be trusted on his own two feet because they would run to the bike), his arm reached out longingly and he cried for nearly half a block.

Now, whenever we're near a full bike rack its like heaven to you. During finals week at Macalester, we held "office hours" together at the bike racks; me talking to students about some nuance regarding the take-home portion of the exam and you moving from bike to bike, exploring all of their own peculiarities with an engineer's eye.

Your verbal development is at a standstill. When Seven reads to you at night from a book I got specifically for you (we didn't need it for her) with pictures of body parts, household items, and toys with their words beside them, she translates the "car" and the "train" for you with an emphatic "DOO!" and "DOO", and "Ball!"

We love you, sweet boy.

Here are a few snapshots of all things beloved by you (caveat on the quality: I'm just trying out a new, convenient, camera phone):

Comments on Mother's Day

Many apologies for the lack of posts as of late. I just turned in my final grades for the semester (!) and am only now able to let my mind wander to the creative. Also, happy 17 mo. birthday to Big, an irregular newsletter will be belatedly posted.

From Wikipedia, the definition of "Mother" include the following interesting snippets:
a) "A mother is the natural or social female parent of an offspring."
b) "Mothers typically fulfill the primary role in the raising of children"
c) "The title mother is often given to a woman other than biological parent, if it is she who fulfills this role."
d) "Currently, with advances in reproductive technologies, the function of biological motherhood can be split between the genetic mother and gestational mother, and in theory neither might be the social mother."
e) "The term mother can also refer to a person with stereotypical traits of a mother such as nurturing and other-centredness."

Although I missed last week's ECFE class (Seven and I gave a final exam instead) BioMom reported that the discussion focused on Mother's Day and how the GLBT couples there celebrated the two upcoming parental holidays on the calendar. It seemed that the consensus was that the couples usually each shared the single holiday, either Mother's or Father's Day.

One lesbian couple argued that they "both want to be mothers."

In our house, BioMom gets Mother's Day and I get Father's Day. Its really never been an issue with us. I guess I am used to not exactly fitting in with the social world, either through its social/religious celebrations, or its normative sexuality/family structures. As an economist, I recognize that most seemingly historical celebrations and social connotations are actually contrived occasions with the goal of consumption and increased profits for corporations (see any history on DeBeers and the creation of the social institution of diamonds given as engagement rings).

So how should GLBT families respond to these parental days (or, how can we have our cake and eat it too?)

1. The Separatist Solution: Not celebrate either day.
My response: No cake, and thus, no eating cake. What fun would that be?
2. The Semi-Separatist Solution: We could create our own day. This has, actually been done. See the Blogging For GLBT Families cite, June 1, 2007. My response: A different kind of cake and you get to eat it.
3. The Conformist's Solution: Share Mother's or Father's Day.
My response: At least you get to eat half the cake. This both gets the "word out", and you get at least 1/2 of a day's worth of celebration.
4. The Libertarian-Meets-The-Conservative View: Each GLBT parent gets their own day, Mother's or Father's.
My Comment: Eat the whole cake. This is what we do, and this is where it gets a little weird for me. On one hand, it is a radical solution. A woman is celebrated on Father’s Day? On the other hand, by keeping the existing socially recognized holidays it somehow reifies the normative (at least in theory) nuclear family structure.

In actuality, again based on information from Wikipedia, Mother's Day in the US was founded by Julia Ward Howe (who wrote the Mother's Day Proclamation in 1870) as a call for peace and disarmament. Here is an exerpt apropo for our day:
" From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: 'Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.'
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...