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2017: Year in review

I have heartily and often called 2017 a dumpster fire for obvious reasons. This year started out with a lot of fear, tears, and rage and continued to be a rollercoaster of mostly negative emotions. It has been a challenging year for all of us, I’d imagine, but I want to make sure to recognize and acknowledge the good. I have to acknowledge the good to be the best mom I can to my boys who deserve a present and sane Mama. After all, my kids were 4 and 7 this year and a lot happened! So here goes.

January

  • Women’s March: I know, I know, I’m starting with a politically related event. I have to as it gave me so much hope and strength to see the number of attendees, the diversity, to march with my boys and explain why we were there. It was also the first time we have been recognized as a family by a stranger at a non-gay event. That was pretty awesome ❤
  • NC Chinese Lantern Festival: This was our first visit to the Festival, which was really REALLY cool! There were Asian-themed light displays (lanterns, Chinese soldiers, foo dogs, etc.) as well as holiday related displays. Our whole family enjoyed it and planned to go the following year (see December, below).

February

  • Sarah P. Duke Gardens: This was our first time visiting the gardens and it was beautiful. We need to get back here in the warmer months to see things blooming!
  • HKonJ march: This is a yearly march organized by the NC chapter of the NAACP. Again, recharged the spirit and made me want to continue to RESIST. I went to this one sans family and met a long-time blogger friend Sarah! No brainer great memory.
  • Hedwig play: DW and I are ridiculously obsessed with Hedwig and were SO excited this was coming to our neck of the woods. It was great seeing it in play form (we’d only seen the movie about 500 times prior). LOVE Hedwig!
  • Snow: We get snow 2 or 3 times in the winter and it is always an experience our family loves – especially because we hail from Southern California. It’s pretty, you get snow/ice days off school/work, and it’s fun to play in when there’s enough of it. I also enjoy putting out birdseed and watching the show ❤

March

  • More snow!

April

May

  • Artsplosure: Katena: This is a huge inflatable structure designed to be “lit up” by the sun filtering in through the thin colored plastic walls. We went to another one of these back in LA when the MM was a baby and loved it. Fun for kids and adults. A friend and his two boys joined us and we had a great time running around, taking pictures.
  • X show at the Cat’s Cradle: Los Angeles legends X came through and it was incredible. These folks are getting up there in age, but still manage to rock it and sound great. The nostalgia and LA feels were high.

June

  • Boating: A co-worker and her wife (no, we are not the only gays in NC) live on a lake and bought a new boat. They kindly invited our family over for a ride and some swimming in the lake and in their pool. It was great fun and the first time either boy has been lake swimming. They were both fans.
  • Monkey begins reading for pleasure: On a whim, I picked up a copy of the first Capt. Under.pants book at Tar.get and handed it to Monkey in the car. When we got home, he laid down on his belly on the couch and read for over an hour! This was probably my most favorite thing that happened in 2017. The birth of a reader. He has been into it ever since and has read tons of books. My heart, you guys. MY HEART!
  • Car Seat Headrest show at the Cat’s Cradle: We like them, we saw them, it was good. Seeing bands is a passion of ours, so I added all of them to the list to remind myself that we continued doing things we love as a couple.
  • Durham Bulls game: Love our Bulls! Planned to see one game per month over the summer, but only made it to two. Cool ballpark, beers, food – SO FUN!
  • Sold condo: After a couple of years of pain renting out our SoCal condo, we decided we were over it. It sold quickly for more than double what we paid for it 14 years ago (!!!). We socked most of the profits away to put down on our current house once we exit the dumpster fire. Sorry to be a downer, but we want access to money in case we need to make a quick exit from the US. We did use some of it…
  • Bought new cars: We bought a black 2017 Toy.ota High.lander, which we are in love with. Also replaced our ancient Hon.da CRV (purchased in 2001!) with a silver 2014 Hon.da CRV. So, no car payments, no paying interest, and in solid vehicles for years to come seemed like a good way to spend some of our profits.

July

  • Family beach trip (Edisto, SC): This was a VERY mixed bag, but I’m counting it in the win column because the kids had a fantastic time with their cousins. We had a little bday celebration for my nephew on the first night there, which was also a lot of fun.

August

  • Paperhand puppet show, Of Wings and Feet: This is a local group that makes the puppets, which are incredibly, and puts on various shows. I didn’t realize that this particular show highlighted resistance. It was poignant, funny, and inspiring. The boys and I even went on-stage at the end to act as protestors. Loved it.
  • Superchunk/Ex Hex/Waxahatchee @ NCMA: This was a Merge Records showcase at the NC Museum of Art’s open air theater. All three bands were really fun, but Superchunk was the highlight. We’ve loved them for many years and think it’s SO cool to see them here (they are from Chapel Hill) and get to go to shows at the Cat’s Cradle (epic indie rock club in Carborro, which is next to Chapel Hill). The museum is very close to home, so that was a plus as well.
  • The eclipse: This? WAS SO FREAKING COOL! I didn’t have much in the way of expectations, and I was blown away. I immediately regretted our decision not to travel to Columbia (which is where my parents live), where they had 100% totality. We had 93% totality and it was amazing.
  • Durham Bulls game: Go Bulls!

September

  • Helium show (Hopscotch Festival, downtown Raleigh): We were HUGE Helium fans in the 90s and count ourselves fortunate that this revival came through our town. Mary Timony (singer/songwriter/guitarist) did not disappoint. First show we’ve seen at the Red.Hat Amphitheater.
  • Monkey goes tree climbing: We have an arboretum near home that I follow on FB. They published this event to climb trees that looked really cool, so I got Monkey a spot. It exceeded our expectations and we can’t wait for it to come again. I’m totally climbing next time. You get a little instruction on how to use the equipment and there is an instructor there to help while you climb. You climb up huge old oak trees – 40-50 feet in the air!
  • Carolina Tiger Rescue: Who knew we had a tiger rescue within 30 minutes of home???? We had a great time wandering the grounds looking at bobcats, cougars, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, lions, and tigers. Really great facility that cares for these animals who need somewhere to go. Will definitely be back.

October

  • Guided by Voices show at Motor.co: First time at this super cool venue, across the street from Fullsteam Brewery, which we checked out as well. GbV is one of our favorite groups from back in the 90s (they are still touring and making records, God bless ’em), and this is our second opportunity to see them in NC. Fun ass show, per usual.

November

  • Cults show at Cat’s Cradle: Show was okay, but a night out at the Cat’s Cradle is always a good time.
  • Hosted Thanksgiving: This was my first time hosting Thanksgiving and it went very well. I made a turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, a squash casserole, and biscuits. MiL brought pumpkin pie and apple pie. A friend brought a roasted veggie casserole. Meal was delicious and we had the house cleaned up and appropriately spiffed up for the holiday. I call it a success.

December

  • Hilton Head/Savannah trip: My parents have a time share on Hilton Head and we try to join when they go. This year, it was my mom and us (my dad was still in Houston, serving his time with FEMA). We typically do a day trip to Savannah as it’s only ~45 minutes away. This year we finally made it to the famed Bonaventure cemetery. We have a family plot there, where my great great grandfather and grandmother are buried. It’s a beautiful place with a ton of history. The boys were being out of control, so my mom offered to drive them around a bit so we could look in peace. We walked through the oldest area of the cemetery, took pictures, and then headed out to play at Forsyth Park.
  • NC Chinese Lantern Festival: See January, above.
  • Finalized DW adoption of the MM: We started this process early in 2017. After problem after problem after setback after setback, it was finally official in December. Thanks to my special friend SB for making it happen! So now both boys have been legally adopted by their Mommy. Suck it, 45.
  • Tig Notaro show: A close friend here in Raleigh is a HUGE Tig fan and bought a bunch of Tiggets to her show (that is her phrase – lololol). DW isn’t a fan, but I really like her as does my mom, so we went and it was great. I typically like my comedy more on the edgy side, but I got a bunch of laughs and a night out with the girls.
  • Christmas: Nothing out of the ordinary this year, but we love the holidays, so it’s always special. The MM’s “big” gift? Hulk riding a car. Monkey’s big gift? Nin.tindo Switch, with games and accessories from multiple family members.

And I must mention our fantastic karate family as playing a big part in making 2017 less of a suckfest. We absolutely love our dojo and our shihan, who is such a strong, caring, liberal woman who I’m proud to call a friend. It’s a wonderful community and we feel lucky to be a part of it. Monkey loves it and continues to thrive and improve. The MM, on the other hand, is the king of NO and decided he was done, much to our chagrin. Hoping that when he gets a little older he has a change of heart.

Not a bad year, right? It was fun to remember the good times and not focus on our national nightmare for a bit. I need to do more of that in 2018.

In closing, RESIST, my friends!

resist

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Bucket list round-up

We ended up not doing quite a bit on the bucket list. I think we’ll still enroll the MM in swimming lessons at a local indoor pool, and we’ll probably be getting bikes before next summer. I kind of feel like I’ve failed as a parent that my almost 8YO has never ridden a regular bike. Gotta get on it.

We did go on our yearly Edisto trip and it was kind of a disaster. We probably won’t go next year. My brother brought along his GF and basically hung out with her, leaving the rest of us caring for his 2 kids + the extra friend my niece brought. I told my mom it was a bad idea to include the GF, primarily because, call me crazy but, I thought a week focusing on his kids who just went through a divorce might be nice. There was a family blow up around mid-week over it. We’ve had these issues with him before. The sad thing is all the cousins absolutely love hanging out and that will be a bit curtailed. Thinking we’ll visit my parents more often so they get to see each other, but vacationing together is rather miserable. The kids all had a great time and that is most important.

Since my last update, we attended another Bulls game, which is always fun, and both boys attended their various camps, which they enjoyed. Grandma also moved to NC and bought a house, which is a whoooole other post all on its own.

The MM update
The MM started at a new outdoor preschool this year, which we were/are excited about. We love their philosophy and that they are outside playing in the woods most of each day. He has been enjoying it, but we are having some hiccups lately. He has been hitting other kids, primarily one girl (!!!!). He got sent home yesterday because he did it more than 3 times. I’m not sure why he’s doing it and we are talking to him about it. He had consequences as well (no tablet time yesterday and he had to miss his Li.ttle G.ym play date). He is super stubborn and kind of defiant sometimes, and he acts like he doesn’t really care about consequences. Typically, though, he’ll come around and end up apologizing sincerely at some point. Hoping this is a stage and that it passes quickly. If I recall correctly with Monkey, behavior issues vastly improved at around 5, so here’s hoping.

We signed him up for fall baseball with the same league Monkey played with and it was a complete failure. He participated just fine the first practice. After that? Nope. Would not go on the field, nothing. We tried for a couple of weeks and then pulled him. Sigh.

The MM loves to build Lego sets, play with superhero figures, and play on his tablet (he is not as into it as his brother). He is a funny, deep-thinking, opinionated kid.

Monkey update
Monkey is now in second grade (wtf) and unfortunately, he has a bad teacher this year. She is far more interested in kids falling in line than in their learning. Monkey has gotten in trouble for humming, talking to classmates, and typical 7YO boy stuff. One day she sent him from the room crying because he was daydreaming (he says he was thinking) and that was the point at which we went in and talked with her. She told us he is a sweet boy and not at all a behavior problem (but she’s sent home 7 “reflections” as of this writing). She is a stickler for the rules and we are trying to just work with it. I’m keeping track of everything and am prepared to escalate if things get worse. Sigh.

Monkey is still loving reading (makes my heart so happy), and his tablet (heart, not so happy here – lol). He is a kind, loving, gregarious kid.

General updates

  • We sold our condo in CA (in June) and used some of the proceeds to purchase 2 cars: a black 2017 Toy.ota High.land.er and a silver 2014 Hon.da CR.V.
  • Halloween is almost here! Monkey is going to be Frank.enstein’s Monster and the MM is going to be a cat (for a friend’s party this weekend) and Buzz Lightyear for Halloween (getting to reuse that awesome costume of Monkey’s).
  • In early December, we’re going to Hilton Head for a few days with my mom.
  • My dad has been in Houston since the hurricane, working for FEMA. He’ll be there through the end of the year at least, with a break at Christmas. Guess his 45-supporting ass is at least paying his dues. Sigh.
  • I continue to rage through the dumpster fire that is our current administration. Trying to muster the courage to make an appointment with a therapist…

BUCKET LIST

  1. Visit Granny, Papa, and cousins for pool time. NOT DONE
  2. Go on yearly Edisto beach trip (mid-July). DONE
  3. Get library cards. DONE
  4. Attend one Durham Bulls game per month. June: DONE July: DONE
  5. Go boating with local friends. DONE
  6. Get bikes for the family (finally). NOT DONE
  7. Put an Intex pool in the back yard. NOT DONE
  8. Go strawberry picking with friends. NOT DONE
  9. Enroll in swimming lessons (the MM). NOT DONE
  10. Attend summer camp. DONE
  11. Help Grandma move to Raleigh (mid-June). DONE
  12. Go to Carowinds (mid-August). NOT DONE
  13. Plan a local family vacay. NOT DONE

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a new school year begins

Monkey started at his new school 8/29. It is on the way to work for me so I’m now doing the drop offs. It’s been awesome having that extra 15 minutes together at the start of the day. It took a couple of days walking him in to his classroom until he felt confident that he could find it himself. His teacher is new to teaching and to the school and seems very excited and motivated. So far, homework seems to be less than in Kindergarten, which I’m happy about, but I’d still prefer no homework in these low grades (aside from reading). Unprompted, Monkey told me recently that he, “Really likes [new school].” Yay! His school is also very diverse, which we are thrilled with and we feel confident that any issues he may encounter having a two-mom family will be dealt with swiftly.

On that note, I had both boys at the local park with me Sunday and there was a party in the rec room there for a church. All of the attendees were black, which whatever but it is a critical part of the story, so I mention it. Monkey was swinging and there was an older boy swinging next to him. I noticed a few younger boys about Monkey’s age come onto the playground and said, “Hey, look! Those boys look your age. You should go play!” To which he responded (to my absolute astonishment and HORROR), “But they all have brown skin. I can’t play with them.” OMFG I wanted to slink away, especially with the older boy sitting RIGHT THERE. I quickly told Monkey that that didn’t matter, of course he can play with them – they are kids just like he is! Since then, we’ve had more pointed conversations about race and diversity and OMG. I have no idea where it came from and it made me feel like we have failed on some level. I’m now on the hunt for books to talk more about this topic. DW and I are still a bit shaken!

We finally converted Monkey’s carseat to a high-backed booster (he’s been in the 5-point harness). When the MM is with him in the car, we feared that Monkey would be tempted to move in ways that would make it dangerous. I’m still not totally sure he is ready maturity-wise, but he’s excited about it and so far, so good. We tell him that if he’s unable to sit in his seat properly, we’ll have to go back to the old seat and that is working for now.

The MM started preschool yesterday (sob). I couldn’t be there as both boys have to be at their respective schools at the same time, so that pretty much sucked. DW reported that there were no tears and he immediately started playing trains and was fine when she left. When she picked him up, he told her he was sad to leave, so I’d say it’s going well. Today he was a little clingy but still managed to get down and play and shed no tears.

It really hit me yesterday that we are pretty well out of the baby years. I’m feeling rather sad about it, but I’m also excited to see what the next stage brings. If I weren’t an old woman, I might very well have pushed for another, but it is not to be. DW says she would NEVER have let that happen, so I guess we were always done at two. Those who’ve been with me for a long time know how difficult it actually was for us to get to number two, so she’s probably right. It’s so hard to believe that the whole TTC/pregnancy/newborn/nursing stage is truly and finally over. It was so all-consuming and now it seems so distant, you know? When you’re in it, you feel like you’ll be there forever. Sigh.

DW is heading to Los Angeles to visit her mom Friday-Thursday. My mom is coming to help with the kids and keep me company. I told her she could come Sunday afternoon/evening and she was like, “What? I’m coming Friday!” LOL. I expect a lot of HG.TV will be watched and family gossip exchanged. My dad took a trip to Ireland last week, so I’m sure I’ll hear all about that. Can you believe my good ole boy dad left the US? Only took him 64 years – lol.

I’m super happy to be heading into fall and to be somewhere that actually has a fall! Ready for boots, sweaters, pumpkin patches, costumes, candy and turkey dinners! Happy fall, y’all!

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2015: an overview

Since I rarely blog anymore and I like to use my blog to travel back in time and reminisce, I thought I’d do a 2015 timeline entry. 2015 was a pretty huge year for us.

January

  • Packed up all of our stuff and moved our family (including our 3 cats) from Los Angeles, CA, to Raleigh, NC (1/22)

February

  • Found our home (2/8)
    We went from 1300 sq feet, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms to 2600 sq feet, 3 (incredibly large) bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and a YARD!
  • Experienced our first NC snow – first time either boy had seen snow (2/24)

March

  • Monkey started at a new preschool…
    …which was a disaster.
  • Monkey quit the new preschool

April

  • First Easter with cousins in SC (4/5)
  • Monkey loses first tooth (4/10)
  • Moved into new house (4/26)
  • The MM turned 2 (4/29)
    It was a quiet affair at home with balloons, gifts and cake. It was enough of a feat to get the sunroom orderly enough to put his new train table there.

May

  • The MM’s first hospital procedure/got front teeth capped (5/15)I didn’t blog or FB about this because I was actually rather embarrassed. The MM had some discoloration on his top 4 front teeth, so I took him in to the dentist for the first time in April. Turned out that it was decay (!!) and they recommended capping them. Since he was so young, it needed to be done under anesthesia (!!) in a local hospital (!!!!). I was freaked out about it, of course, so I got a second opinion, and, yes, this was the recommended course of action. I called every local ped dentist to see if there was anyone who could do this in their office and nope.I took him in super early in the AM after an overnight fast. They put us in a room to wait. They wait until they are in the OR to give gas to get them out quickly and then do IV, procedure. Then one of the worst things ever – they took him screaming and crying from my arms to the OR. It. Was. Awful. I waited for an excruciating 1.5 hours and then they brought me back to hold him as he came to. Again, just awful. He was so upset and disoriented. I nursed him, took him home, and put him to bed. He slept for a few hours (with constant Mama checks) and then woke up and was absolutely fine. And that was that. The capped teeth will fall out as normal when his permanent teeth start coming in.The dentist blamed my nursing him overnight as the cause of the decay, which is why I felt embarrassed and ashamed. I’ve read that breastmilk doesn’t pool in the mouth and lead to this problem like formula from a bottle overnight does. Who knows. I just know that I did what felt right for him and for me and that’s that.

July

  • Our first ER visit: The MM gets stitches (7/9)How we made it 5 years without an ER visit is beyond me. This one happened because Monkey was chasing the MM through the house and of course the MM fell right on the edge of the fireplace (Note: We’ve since purchased guards for the edge.) DW tried cleaning him up but we quickly saw that his poor lip was split. I first took him to Urgent Care as they said they do stitches. On arrival, however, they said since it was on the face, they wanted us to go to the ER.The MM was a freaking rock star. First they applied topical numbing cream with a cotton ball taped to his lip. Then they did some sort of nose spray that makes you very woozy and out of it. Lastly they sewed up his lip. Dude didn’t even cry during the stitches and barely did for the other stuff.He did great! And now he has a small bad ass scar on his upper lip. Dude has been through it this year.
  • Monkey started Kindergarten (7/7)

August

  • Trip to Wilmington (8/10)
    First time to NC beach for any of us. Granny came along (my mom). We went to the beach (but only for one day as the kids really wanted to be in the pool at the hotel), did a lot of swimming in the pool, visited the USS NC Battleship and NC Aquarium, and Mama and Mommy went out for dinner did the Ghost Tour.

September

  • Baseball for Monkey!

    This was actually t-ball, but ended up being coaches pitching. Monkey was much more focused and into it than he ever has been and did well. We found a great league nearby and loved Monkey’s coach (a former NY Yankees player!). We found that out when the team was invited to coaches’ house for a post-season wrap up. Dude lives in a freaking $2 milion dollar home! Cray. We just signed up for Spring ball and are really hopeful we are on his team again (his son is the same age as Monkey).

October

  • Color Run (10/3)
    Monkey LOVES to run and this seemed like something he’d enjoy. Did he ever! The whole family went but only Monkey and I did the actual run (let’s be real, Mama mostly walked). We got covered head to toe in colored powder, much to Monkey’s delight. Afterwards, they had a big dance party where they handed out more color packs and everyone got even more covered in color. On our walk to the car, there was a powder station that a bunch of kids were playing at (purple powder EVERYWHERE), so we stopped and let the kids go to town. You guys, they were seriously covered in purple powder. They loved it. Monkey still asks when we can do it again. LOL.
  • NC State Fair (10/17)
    Meh, we are not really fair fans, but the fairgrounds are super close and everyone said you must experience it. It was hot, parking was hell, there was disgusting fair food, there were smelly buildings full of farm animals, and overpriced tickets to ride crappy rides. Kids loved it – Mamas, not so much. Mommy was like, “We aren’t doing that again.” I was like, “You know you’re dreaming, right? We have kids!” LOL!
  • Mama starts new job (at same company)
  • First Halloween in new house
    In LA we lived in a security condo building so we never got trick-or-treaters. Monkey thoroughly enjoyed handing out candy. In fact, he cut his own TOTing short so that he could go home and hand out candy. DW also really did up the house for Halloween. Orange lights around posts on front porch, skeleton lights along front walkway, tombstones and flashing lights in yard, and spooky sounds via a speaker in the front window. Pretty impressive 🙂

November

  • Mommy’s band plays first gig
  • Mama has work trip to LA – first time away from the MM overnight (11/17-11/19)
    Highlights included staying at The Standard hotel, going to The Broad museum, partying on my last night there with my old gay work boyfriend (we did drinks at the rooftop bar at The Standard, hit Clifton’s for dinner, and walked around downtown LA, which is really lovely these days). Bonus? I was not at all homesick for LA – I was totally ready to come home to NC 🙂
  • Wean the MM (11/17)
  • First Thanksgiving with my family in SC

December

  • Monkey turned 6 (12/21)
    No party or huge activity planned this year, which ended up making Monkey sad. We hit up the local kid’s museum, went out for brunch and went to the trampoline place. Then home for gifts, dinner and cake. Next year we’ll do a party at our place.
  • First Christmas in new house
  • Mommy visited Grandma in LA (12/26-12/29)
  • Mama and boys visited family in SC (12/26-12/28)
    Highlights include exchanging gifts with family, visiting the Riverbanks Zoo with cousins, and seeing The Good Dinosaur.

So far, we’ve had a pretty busy January 2016 as well!

  • The MM saw his first movie in the theater – Hotel Transylvania 2 (1/3)
    We have a $2 theater near our house so we thought we’d try it. He did great and we’ve already been back to see The Peanuts movie, too.
  • Monkey received a character award at school for Respect (1/8)
    There were around 6 total character awards per grade. Very proud!
  • Toured and applied to a magnet school for Monkey for first grade (we find out if he got in 2/5)
  • Had our first snow in our new house (1/17)
  • Scheduled a tour of a local pre-school for the MM for next August (1/22)
  • Monkey’s first school performance (1/22)
  • Roller skating for the first time  for a school fundraiser (1/30)
  • Mommy’s band has scheduled their second show (2/6)
  • Researching soccer and/or karate options for the MM, and track options for Monkey
  • Work on potty training the MM (ughhhhhh)

Whew! Non-stop action over here.

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