Friday, December 25, 2009

Isaiah 9:6 - For unto us a Child is Born

Chris and I wanted to take this moment to thank everyone for all of their well-wishes as we celebrate our little Kensington Grace's first birthday today. We've been in Texas for the past couple of weeks spending time with Kensi's (grand) Mazha and Fazha, as well as her Auntie Simone, cousins and tons of loved ones. Kensington has been showered with love, hugs, kisses... and yes, you've guessed it, gifts - so many so we have to send SEVERAL boxes via UPS because there is no other way we're going to get them up north, unless we rent a Penske truck and drive home (which may actually be cheaper).
Due to us being down south, we haven't been online much. As soon as we get back I'll be blogging like there is no tomorrow. We have so much to share with you; Kensi's birthday party with her bio family, her birthday celebration at home, her birthday Cowgirl Hoedown (complete with bounce house and country piƱata), our first 'solo' plane ride, a video message from her Godfather Michael (straight from Manchester where he was competing in 'Duel in the Pool', which you can see on NBC on December 27th), her build-a-bear ‘Chickpea’, Christmas, and so much more. I've been taking notes to ensure that I don't forget any key points.

I wanted to share with you all Kensington’s first encounter with Santa Claus. Not every child enjoys their time with Santa. Some kids are plain scared of the fat man with a red suit. I was envisioning her sitting on old St. Nicks lap, with tears streaming down her face and mouth open wide with blood-curdling screams escaping her tiny, and yet very powerful, vocal box. You know the pictures I’m talking about. There are hundreds of websites and books dedicated to these disastrous family photos. I was hoping we’d experience this family tradition first-hand. I even started designing our Christmas card to read “Silent Night… I don’t think so!” Unfortunately for me, our little angel was just that – a little angel. I asked Santa’s little elf to pinch her to make her cry and he looked at me like I was crazy. “No, seriously. Pinch her. It’s for my Christmas Card. There’s and extra $20 in it for if she goes from happy baby to wailing baby. But noooooooooooo. Santa’s little midget with pointy ears that looked like a Spock wannabe wouldn’t buy in to my scheme. Because of his unwillingness to grant MY holiday wish, we got a gorgeous princess, smiling away, on Swiety Mikolaj.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Picture this...

This month Kensington's school did class photos. While the quality of the prints were what you'd expect from LifeTouch, so was the time investment from the photographer. Unlike the other photoshoots Kensington has gone to that range from 30-90 minutes a setting, this was more of a "sit, snap, next" experience - which meant no room for errors, or lack of smiling. Needless to say we didn't purchase the entire kit, but as any good parents would do, we purchase one of each print for scrapbook purposes.

Here they are for your viewing pleasure. [note... she's not wearing eye shadow, it's the way the scan came out]

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

One small step for man; one giant leap for Kensington

These are the tiny feet that carried you today.
First steps free from our hands, we watched our baby step away.
During the coming years, we'll guide these little feet,
As they toddle 'cross the lawn, and safely cross the street.

They'll soon grow strong and steady, find puddles to kick and splash,
Pedal a two-wheel bike, and win a schoolyard dash.
Kick a ball, learn to dance, race a friend home from school,
Skip a rope, jump in bed, dive feet-first at the pool.

Your small feet may often stumble, scrape a knee or take a fall,
Misstep or need direction, or a model to stand tall.
Know we'll always be behind you, our love will give you wings,
To proudly fill the shoes, a grown-up life will bring.

The years will quickly pass, and these feet will learn to drive,
Walk the stage to a diploma, when graduation day arrives.
We'll watch through misty eyes, as you walk down wedding's aisle,
A family of your own, you'll start your jouney with a smile.

These tiny prints will hold our hearts, for each tomorrow you will grow,
Today we'll hold you closer, for too soon these feet will go.



We were two minutes too late. Kensington took her first steps on Thanksgiving eve, but we didn't have the camera ready. By the time I unplugged the battery charger and grabbed the camera, she was done with her latest trick. We will now be keeping the camera by our side 24/7 to capture her next steps.

Special thanks to Teri Harrison for the poem above.

Think outside the socks...

Is matching is over rated? I don't think it is... and it erks me to no end when Chris dresses Kensington in the mornings and her socks don't match her outfit. I know it's something I should get over, right? So, image my surprise when our friend Kathi brought over a gift for Kensi, a collection of LittleMissMatched items. This company began with the wacky idea to sell colorful missmatched socks in odd numbers. LittleMissMatched has created socks, leggings, gloves, sleepwear, swimwear, bedding, electronic socks, and a book (My MissMatched Life, Chronicle Books) – all incorporating their core design philosophy that nothing matches but anything goes.


Each collection allows for thousands of clever combinations using unique color waves and patterns, giving girls the chance to express their creativity and individuality every day of the year.

But does clever combinations = good taste? I'm still not sure. While I was getting her ready for school on Monday, I tried to let down my fashion gaurd and place two MissMatched mismatched socks on her little feetsies. I stood her up and looked her over. The gay-gene in me made me take them off and place the matching socks that coordinated perfected with the outfit. The socks and the leggings are, by themselves, absolutely precious. I just need to take baby steps so when my baby takes her steps, she does it in style.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Confucius say, "Shit happens."

Kensington doesn't get the concept of daylight saving time, weekends or holidays. She has her own little internal clock that doesn't come with a snooze button - I would have to say this is the only true drawback to parenthood.


While we'd like to stay up past 9:30pm on Friday and Saturday nights, we know that when 6:00 - 6:30am comes around, little Miss Sunshine will up and ready to start her day, and she doesn't care if we have matching Louis Vuitton luggage under our eyes. So, it came to quite a surprise the other Saturday when at 6:30 in the morning, we were not being summoned into Kensi's play-palace. My heart started to race. “Oh God, did something happen?” I reached for the monitor and put my ear to it. Okay, I could hear her breathing. All is well. I rolled over and shut my eyes, thinking that this is going to be a wonderful weekend.

Unfortunately, not being able to sleep-in for the past 11 months (has it been that long?), I tossed and turned for the next 30 minutes. It was no use. I wasn’t going to be able to get back to sleep. I might as well go and start the coffee and check Facebook while Sleeping Beauty is getting her rest. A few moments later, I run upstairs and grab the monitor so I can have it by me she when she does wake up, I can go and be the first one to give her morning kisses (Chris and I fight for this privilege). I still hear her breathing, so all is well. Maybe I will sneak in watch her sleep for a little bit. I open the door, and to my surprise, through the dark I can see the top of Kensington’s head peeking up over the cribs frame. She is sitting up with her back to the door. “I wonder how longs she’s been up?” I think to myself. She hears me and turns around with her hands raising up for me to lift her. Before I my eyes can adjust to the darkness, I grab her. “Holy mother of Jesus…” I scream.

Chris has now jumped out of bed. Kensi had an EXPLOSIVE diaper that leaked out of her bedtime onesie. I start to hurl. I’m gagging and I’m holding her by her armpits. Instead of running to the bathroom across the hall and putting her in the tub, I run downstairs with her to put her in her infant bathtub that was in the kitchen. I put her on the floor while the water is running and warming up. She wants to stand… no, she actually wants to climb on my leg. “Oh no you don’t!” I have my foot out preventing her from climbing up on me. This is not want she wants, and she lets me know how unhappy she is.

Chris now enters the room. He turns and gags. “Chris, grab her.”

“You want me to gr….” And he hurls. “Chris, there’s shit coming out of her onsie.” Tears start streaming down his face and he’s laughing and vomiting at the same time. I grab her by the shoulders and head towards him. “Open up the trash bin.”. Chris steps on the level and the stainless steel doors open. We start peeling away the saturated poo material clinging to her back, thighs and legs. “Just throw the outfit away,” but instead Chris puts it in a plastic bag so he can wash it. Really?!?! It wasn’t worth saving. Now it’s time to peel away the useless diaper. “What, you want to save that too?” He wasn’t laughing. Kensington was, but Chris wasn’t. We then pluck her from the bin into the tub and start filling it with water. I know this is not the order that one normally baths an infant, but under the circumstances, we’d be more than happy explain the situation to the department of child protective services. The water quickly turns brown. I pick Kensi up and we empty the tub and start all over again. The good thing is, she loves bath time. So, with her pink ducky in one hand, and her baby alligator in the other, she splashes about and we suds her up and spray her off. We have to empty the tub again. Water cascades across the counter, down the drawers, and onto the floor. Duncan is there to lick it up. We then we suds her up one last time and spray her off. Now she’s squeaky clean.

So much for thinking that this is going to be a wonderful weekend. :)



Monday, November 16, 2009

Giddy Up, Little Cowgirl


This has been a crazy week. I finished Kensington's birthday invite and have been writing address after address.

I'm completely and utterly depressed. Last night while I was starting to change Kensi's diaper, I decided that I was going to give her a bath (she worked up a little sweat as we went on our weekend walk). I asked Chris to watch her for a moment while I got her bath ready. Two minutes later I hear, "I'm braving new territory" as I see him walking into the room holding our naked daughter. What... no diaper? Well, as soon as Kensi heard the running water, her own little faucet turned on - and all over Chris. Of course, I ran to get the camera and started snapping away, only to find out that the memory card was in the disk reader because I had transferred photos earlier that day. Oh well, maybe next time.

Here are some of the photos that I did capture when the card was actually in the camera.

 - Kensington waiting by the windo for papa to come home.
 - The eyes that get her whatever she wants.
 - Chris's halloween masterpiece.




Sunday, November 8, 2009

It's The Great Pumpkin (picking adventure), Charlie Brown!

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook:
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox


For those of you viewing this on facebook, you can view the video by visiting http://itsdaddiesplural.blogspot.com

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Move over John and Kate… here come the gays.

Not many people are aware that earlier this year, Chris and I were working with a casting director from TLC for a new reality series on alternative families. Okay… it was more of “I” was working with the casting director.
It all started with one of our ItsDaddies.Plural. readers sending a message that they had received from the casting agency looking for gay parents in middle America that were interested in the concept. Of course it peeked my interest and I sent in our blog link to the email address that provided. Within a couple days, I received a phone call while at work and had a phone interview. They had asked for some more information and I sent in our adoption portfolio, along with our autobiographies that we had created for Friends In Adoption. A couple weeks went by and I received another call. They were still interested and we had made it to the next level. I provided some additional information (funny parenting stories that we had encountered) as well as some additional photos and an “average week” summation. This was extremely easy to provide because of the blog. A few days later and I had received another call and provided some additional information. Then about three weeks went by and I didn’t hear anything. It looked like we weren’t selected. Oh well, it would have been fun.

Then the 4th of July weekend hit. My blackberry was acting up (don’t tell my IT department, but it could have been Kensington’s saliva that shorted out the interface because our little chickpea decided that she wanted to use it as a teething ring) and I didn’t realize that I had a voicemail message that was in my inbox for a couple days. It was Brian, from the TLC casting agency. We had made it to the final selection round. He wanted to talk to us about a video that he needed sent electronically before the weekend was up. It was to be a 3-5 minute video of the three of us answering a couple questions that they provided. It was also to show us giving a tour of our home. They needed it by that Monday, as they would be making their selection of families (the show would be an ongoing storyline of a couple different LGBT families and how they deal with raising an alternative family in a majority straight society).

Houston, we have a problem. This was becoming real, and I left out one minor little detail. I didn’t tell Chris any of this was happening. I told him about the original email that I had received saying that TLC was doing a show, but I left out the details of the numerous phone and email communications I had with Brian.

So, as we were preparing for our holiday gathering in NJ, I sprung it on him.

“Look at what we can do for America… there are currently six states that prohibit gays from adopting. We can show them that gay families can provide loving and stable homes to the tens of thousands of children currently needing a home.”
He wasn’t buying it.

“Chris, think of what this can do for our family. This can boost Kensington’s college fund. She will have a want for nothing. Jon and Kate are getting, like, $250k an episode."
Nope. Still not budging. (It probably had something to do with Jon and Kate announcing that they were splitting up and that was on the cover of every magazine that week).
So I decided to go the passive-aggressive route, “Do NOT stifle this family’s creativity. Stop thinking about you, you, you and start thinking about us. Our little girl is loved by so many and can be loved by the world. Look how we have helped so many people during their adoption journey with our blog… think of what we can do… think of what Kensington can do. She deserves to be a star!” I said this half jokingly.

Wrong approach. Clearly I should have thought this through a little bit more.

What followed next was a lightly heated conversation about scripted reality and how everything is exaggerated for ratings. “It doesn’t have to be that way… this show is different, they are showing LGBT families is a positive light. Look, we don’t have to sign a contract without reading it. If anything looks like we won’t have control of how they view us, we’ll walk away.” He still wasn’t buying any of it. “Okay, look. Let’s ask everyone at the party what they think. Don’t say ‘no’ just yet. Let’s get some buy-in from our friends.” He went for it. This could not have been better for me. I knew they’d all say ‘go for it’.

Okay. I was wrong. EVERYONE said to stay clear of the situation. While it may seem fun, we shouldn’t expose ourselves like this. They went through example after example of individuals who have exposed themselves to reality television; and how they are now suffering for all that they have received. Infidelity, no privacy, the replay effect, lack of reality, good intentions gone bad, questionable morality and separation/divorce. Although reality tv makes great entertainment, it is probably not the best place to raise a family or to showcase our lives. I got it. Some friends they are for poop-pooping my hopes and dreams. :)
One of the key points that they included (these are my friends, mind you) that the world would not get/understand my strange sense of humor. While THEY get and they love it… it might not come across the way I want it to when it is sliced and edited to fit into a 42 minute episode. I just don’t understand?

And then Halloween hit. I thought I came up with the perfect Halloween costume for our Kensington – It was cute and adorable, and yet scary and deadly – everything you’d want during this particular holiday event, right?


SWINE FLU.
 
Come on... this is precious.
 
Look, I know that swine flu isn't a laughing matter. We've had a friend and co-worker that had swine flu for two weeks, and a gay dad that we know currently has a little one that sick right now.
 
But when you think about it, Ed Gein (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) did horrible things, and yet hundreds of thousands of kids dressed up like him and he was portrayed in almost every scary hayride across the country.

Piracy off the Somali coast has been a threat to international shipping recently, and yet, Captain Jack Black was going door-to-door asking for candy.

Death is real... and scary, but that didn't stop major department stores from selling Grim Reaper costumes.

So, what I’m saying is, the Swine Flu is in fact an appropriate Halloween costume and it's not just my sense of humor coming into play. Now, it’s probably something that we would have gotten backlash for had we showed this on television, so I guess everything happens for a reason.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Schizophrenia…

Yes. That is the reason that I’m giving for not updating the blog in quite some time. I have schizophrenia and it has squashed my creative juices. You laugh. Surely I must be joking. Well, I’m not quite sure. While I haven’t been officially diagnosed by my physician, I have been showing all of the signs that have been identified by WedMD. My psychosis distorts the way I think, act, perceive reality, and relate to others. That’s a problem.

You see, growing up gay in the south, I always wanted to move up the “the big city”. And now, New York is where I'd rather stay. As a kid, I was allergic smelling hay (and grass, as well as pine, dirt, and milk). I’ve grown accustom to, and adore, the panoramic penthouse view… family I love you, but give me Park Avenue.

And this is where my dilemma lies. There is this part of me that wants to get away from the rat race of the city, come out and breathe the fresh air, live in the sunshine, plant the little seeds in the rich brown earth and watch them push themselves up through the soil reaching up for the blue sky and the sunshine ‘til they become corn, and wheat and pumpkins. I’m about to say it for the first time… Farm livin' is the life for me. I wear overalls. Sit on a tractor. Milk cows and goats. Oh, the land spreadin' out so far and wide.
Sometimes I want to give up the big city… just give me that countryside.

I’m a walking mess. I can’t cook, I can’t sew, and can’t keep house. All I could do is talk Hungarian and eat hotscakes and vaffles.

The chores.
The stores.
Fresh air.
Times Square.

Pink Cottage.
No Wattage.
White Manor.
Zynga Banner.

Adopt a sheep.
Can’t get enough sleep.
Bales of hay.
Farmville… I can’t stay away.

So that is really the root of the problem. I guess it was easier for me to self-diagnose Schizophrenia, rather than to admit my Farmville addiction. For me, believing that I had an internal struggle with Oliver and Lisa Douglas in my head was much easier than typing away that each night after Kensington goes to sleep I spend the rest of my waking hours playing a computer game. I'm plowing and harvesting. I'm planting trees and building fences. I'm not alone... 5.2 million others are playing it as well.


I would have continued with my initial verdict, but then I realized that Lisa and Douglas were stuck in Hooterville, so that changed everything for me. I mean… some things I could deal with… but Hooterville?!?! I have to draw the line somewhere.

Unfortunately, I went a little too far. We went ahead and got a little Arnold the piglet.



I’m throwing out there to the world my New Years resolution months prior to everyone else. I will make sure I post a new entry at least once a week from here on out.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Itsy Bitsy Yoga

Yoga brings parents new ways to calm, soothe, and nurture their baby/toddler. It can give your baby a strong and healthy foundation that will last beyond the preschool years.

As a parent, finding the right class and with a professional with specialized training in yoga for babies and toddler under age 4 is vital for a safe and enjoyable yoga class experience. Itsy Bitsy Yoga makes it easy. To learn more about the class that is most age-appropriate for your child, visit itsybitsyyoga.com


Just look at what it's done for our little grasshopper. She decided to show off her yoga talents last week at Tom and Carolyn's home while her daddy was upstairs playing RockBand. Isn't it just adorable?!

Great Disgraces

1972 brought us the Watergate scandal, 1993 was the Whitewatergate controversy, and now we face an even bigger disdain in American history... Babygate. No, I'm not referring to the under-qualified moose-hunting former governor of Alaska's first (and I'm sure not last) scandal that she faced.

When referring to Babygate, I'm talking about Kensington's playroom which has now been barred off from the kitchen and the living room (thanks to Chris, Kyle, a screw gun and some random drill bits that took way to long to find). With the look of total disgust on her face, I'm sure Kensi feels like us childproofing her room was turning her space into a prison-like setting that completely inhibits her ability to explore and develop. On the contrary, childproofing her playroom should balance the many factors as daddies that we face: safety, aesthetics, supervision level, and livability.

Of course the hazards our little chickpea is exposed to will vary with their stages of her development. Our once passive three month old was exposed to many less hazards than her almost eight month old curiosity exposes her to now.

From what our pediatrician has said, the things we need to be concerned with are falls from stairs (which in our case, from the living room she can fall down stairs to the bathroom and the basement, or climb up to the bedroom and topple down like a slinky), electrical shocks (we should be covered as every outlet is covered, but we take nothing for granted), poisoning (What... you mistake baking powder for baking soda ONCE and people never let you live it down), choking on small objects (note to self, hide childhood marble collection), water accidents (she will now walk around in a life jacket until she's eighteen. Wait, can she wear a life vest at the convent? I'll have to check with Mother Superior on this one. Maybe if I can get it in black), climbing furniture which can topple (place very heavy objects on all shelves to weight it down- check), and bumping into the corners of furniture or counter tops (must go to Home Depot to rent sander to round all corners on everything in the house). Looks like we're set. For the moment.

Kensington doesn't have an issue being closed in. The issue she has is being locked in her cell placed in her room by herself. As long as one of us are in the room with her, she's fine... but the moment one of us escapes leaves she lets us know that she's going to shank us scream until she gets her way. We're not saying that she's spoiled, but she normally gets her way. Enough said.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Giddy Up, Little Partner

Kensington loves playing cowgirl with her pappa! While searching the Internet, I found a little ingenious set of matching Wild West inspired t-shirts to wear during our playtime.

With a printed saddle on the back of horsey Dad's t-shirt and a cute cowboy t-shirt for my little rider to wear.

This set, and other humorous (and some not so humorous) items can be found at TwistedTwee.

Other items that caught my attention are their equal opportunity onesies and the "nobody puts baby in the corner" outfit.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I Got You, Babe.

Friday, August 14, was a very special day for our family. It was Kensington's "set in stone" day... better known as our adoption finalization day. Up until now, Friends In Adoption had legal custody of her until the paperwork went through the court system.

When Kensington was born, the hospital mis-typed her "Baby Girl" name, and issued her birth certificate as "Babe Girl". Yes. No joke. For the past seven months, Kensi's name has actually been Babe. For those of you who have seen her eat, you would attest to her 'piglet' type behavior :)

Friday morning comes and we have to be at court by 8:30a.m. Because I had an event the previous day, we didn't drive up to upstate New York until that morning. 4 to be exact. So, with Kensington in her pajama's, and us wiping the sleep out of our eyes, it's off we go. Our suits, coordinating ties, and Kensington's adoption-princess dress hanging off the hook in the car - waiting until the moment we take our oath.

Chris sets the playlist on the iPod for the trip. "Just think. In a couple hours, Babe will legally be Kensington Grace. You should download 'I got you babe' on your iPhone." And so he did. That song became our anthem for the day.

Once we got to the courthouse, we saw Mary (our casework supervisor) and headed inside. We're the first one on the docket. Our lawyer and the states lawyer arrive and we wait until the bailiff calls us in the waiting room. Our plan was to record the hearing, but we weren't able to do so...

We take our place at one table, Mary and our Friends In Adoption's attorney at the other. The judge, whose bench is covered with stuffed animals, starts off by stating that he starts his Friday's with the happier cases. It puts him in the right mood for having to deal with the other cases he'll be hearing in family court for the remainder of the day. He talks about family... and the definition of adoption, the molding of our new family, and then reviews of the paperwork. "Babe? Is this correct?" Our attorney pipes in, "Yes, your honor. There seemed to be a typo from the initial paperwork, so in order to follow protocol, we changed all of the 'baby girl' to 'babe' to keep it consistent.

I decided to inject a bit of humor, "It may please the court, your honor, to know that we've been playing Sonny & Cher's I Got You Babe on the way to the court."

The judge smiles and says, "well, then I have just the thing for this occasion" and pulls out two stuffed St. Bernard's that are hugging. He presses play on of of their paws and they begin to sing, "Babe. I got you babe."

[This is where I make a HUGE mistake]

In the beginning of the adoption process, Mary and the folks at FIA told us about this judge, and how he would give each child a stuffed animal at the hearing. When he said that he 'had just the thing', I thought that we was giving us the singing dogs. What does one normally do when being offered something? They go to get it... right? With Kensington in my lap, I stand up and walk behind the bench so he could hand it to her.

That wasn't his intentions.... and me going behind the bench - without his permission - wasn't protocol. He didn't find it amusing. Sweat beads start forming on my head as the dogs continue to sing. "Look Kensi... look at the puppies" (what was I supposed to say?) The judge takes the dogs and moves them to the other part of the bench... furthest from me. "We'll just move these over here" he says, as I slowly back away and head back to the table.

We continue with proceeding and then are passed some documents to sign. While this is being done, Kensi is playing with the cups on the table. She could care less about the toys we placed there. It was plastic water cups that caught her attention.

"Normally, I don't do this. Giving up my singing toys. (we found out he had a box of smaller toys that he gives away). But in this scenario... for this little sweetie... with a name like 'Babe', I don't think I have a choice here. Mary, would you please come and get this toy and bring it to Kensington." Mary went to the front of the bench and of the dogs and brought it to us.

The hearing was over. It's been made official!

Mary later asked the judge if we could have a picture of together and he said he was okay with that. "Should be come to the front of the bench", I asked. He then granted us permission to come behind the bench (as you can see in the picture).














So... the overall question is how we now feel about all of this.

To be honest. It doesn't feel any different. We didn't love less because it wasn't legal. Actually, we fell in love with her before we were even chosen by our birth parents. The moment we saw her sonogram picture, she had us wrapped around her little finger. Do we love more? I don't know if it's possible. She's our world. Always has been and always will be.

It makes it easier. For our wills. For our benefits. For making key health care decisions in the future. Logistically it's better. Emotionally it's the same. We just now have one more day to celebrate each year. August 14th is now our "set in stone" date. I see a lot of stones (jewelry) being given in the future.

We put a couple pictures together of the last several months. For those seeing this post via Facebook, you'll have to visit our site at http://itsdaddiesplural.blogspot.com/ to view.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Watching our baby blossom...



There is nothing more special as a parent than the connection with your baby.

When Chris went to pay the DirectTV bill online, he saw that they were offering a series of engaging, educational programs designed to providing you with new opportunities for learning and playing together.






BabyFirstTV goes above and beyond traditional TV – it is an educational tool that provides a positive learning environment and an engaging experience for both you and your baby. Their programming features original new content including “Rainbow Horse”(hello... they really know how to target gay dads, don't they? Not sure which I like more, the rainbow horse or the rainbow flower they use as their logo), “Sandman,” and “I Can Sign” to name a few, as well as new tools that help parents better understand the developmental benefits for their baby with each of the programs.

With your baby’s safety and well being in mind, they offer content specifically tailored to meet the needs of babies and toddlers up to three years of age, in a safe and positive, commercial-free learning environment.

Kensington just loves the channel... though I'm not sure what to make of Tec the Tractor. I know that this is based off of a popular children’s book, and the book with a farmyard setting itself maybe great for kids, but the show freaks me out. His eyes seem to follow you no matter where in the room you are. Not to mention, no ones mouth moves.

Shushybye Baby has short series of songs, stories, healthful sleep tips and much more – all designed to encourage your toddler to look forward to nighty-night time! Not sure if it actually helped tonight - - Kensington has fought her naps all day today. We have a '20 minute rule' in our house (put her down for a nap, not letting her cry more than 20 minutes without calling it quits and letting her stay up). In 7 months, we've only have to get her once because she's cried more than 20 minutes. Until today.

We all know Kensington loves food. As mentioned in the past, she's been called an 'aggressive' eater by many, and one can easily tell by the photo's online (for those reading this on Facebook, check out our blog http://itsdaddiesplural.blogspot.com) that she loves being held. When ever ANYONE reaches out their hands, she will go to them.

Tonight bedtime was a hoot and a holla. Yes, I said holla.

Kensington was in her explorer gym and Chris walks in with her bottle and asks me if I want to take her up for bed time. Sure. This should be a piece of cake considering how much sleep, or lack thereof, she's actually gotten today.

I reach out her and instead of reaching for me, she grabs a toy and starts jumping up and down in her spring chair. I start laughing. "Come on Kensi, lets go to bed." Nadda. I clap my hands a little and she turns (the seat can go 360 degrees around the activity center). "Chris, She knows it's bed time and she's not wanting to go." I walk around to her and reach out again. She turns. Chris tries and gets the same response. We're now both laughing uncontrollably.

Here's the kicker... we show her the bottle, and she doesn't even reach for it. This is a child that when in school, they have to feed the other kids in the opposite side of the room from where she is because she wants to steal their food - even after she just finished hers. The same child that thinks any bottle (coke, mustard, salad dressing) is hers and will let you know that she stakes her claim to it. She didn't want it because she knew it meant going to bed. Needless to say, she cried the entire trip up to the room. After her bottle, a few minutes of rocking her and singing to her in my best Beyonce impersonation, she went out.

Hopefully the Shushybye Dream Band will have better luck tomorrow night. Lets keep our fingers crossed.

I smell a little piggy...

the funny thing is, these are pictures of her OUTSIDE of the playpen trying to climb in it to get her Mr. Elephant toy.

She's mastered crawling (and loves crawling in one large circle... from the living room, to the dining room, to the kitchen, then into the hallway, and back to the living room). She turns some pretty tight corners and every once in awhile her knee will bang into the wall.

Gossip is now sleeping with one eye open because if Kensington catches sight of her, she b-lines for her.

Her new challenge... standing up and climbing. yes. both of them.

Lord, grant us strength.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Chunkey Monkey has her first tooth...


Let them eat cake...
















While this phrase is often attributed to the Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, there is no evidence to support that she ever uttered this phrase (and that concludes today's history lesson).
One of the most creative gifts we received at one of our showers was a three-tiered cake made out of diapers. So, I think I surprised some of my coworkers when I said I was making a Diaper cake for a co-workers shower, and didn't show up with a real cake (lol).
I found the "How to make a diaper cake" video here: http://www.metacafe.com/watch/876435/how_to_make_a_diaper_cake/
In addition to diapers, I added a white and pink baby bibs and baby onesies. While my cake wasn't a perfectly straight as the one in the video, it did look better than the version I have posted above. During my commute into the office, it slid off of the cake base (whaaaa!!!).
It ended up more like a mad hatter diaper cake... I guess it was the thought that counts, right?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sleep Tight Little Angel...



We were at a loss for words.

Our hearts go out to Jenn, my co-worker, and her family as they mourn - and celebrate - the life of their precious Anna Maxine.
While many of us in the ACS haven't had the opportunity to meet little Anna, it didn't stop the flood of emotions from pouring when we first received Jenn's message. Across the office was a synchronized gasp, followed by tears, and doors closing so we could each have our own moment of silence and seek comfort in prayer for their family.
Reading the wonderful tribute that was written, we were touched at the amount of love their family has shown their angel during her brief time here on earth, and moved by how they spent their final moments with her and how they have had to share the news with Anna's brother and sister.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to you...
Paul, Christopher and Kensington
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name' sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: For thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou annointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever. Psalm 23

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bio-Family Reunion (Day 2 of 3)

It’s the crack of dawn. It feels like I’ve only had about three hours of sleep when a rooster crowing awakens me. What the…? I open my eyes and the room is so bright I think that has to be around 9am. There goes breakfast. Annie’s note on the door said it would be ready at 8:30, and with having to be at the picnic at 10, there would be no way we could get ready, eat breakfast and be out of the B&B in an hour. My blackberry is dead so I can’t access the clock so I reach for Chris’ iPhone. It’s only 5 o’clock. The rooster is still crowing. Loudly. It’s going to wake everyone in the house. I start shhh’ing. It doesn’t care that I want it to be quite. It just keeps crowing and crowing. Does it understand what we went through the night before? Does it know what awaits us today and that we need some sleep? Does it understand that the more it crows, the more upset people will be in the house? It doesn’t care. And why doesn’t it care? Because she got plenty of sleep the night before as we traveled from PA to VT. That rooster crowing was our very own Kensington Grace. Up at five in the morning and refusing to go back to sleep. She’s looking up at me every time I look down at her, with a huge smile on her face. How can you be mad… even this early in the morning?

I take her out of her temporary crib and starting walking around the bear room with her. After about 9-10 minutes of this, it seems like she’s ready to go back to sleep. I put her down and as soon as my head hits the pillow, Cock-a-doodle-do. [Okay. It really sounded more like blah blah blahhh blah bla.]

I break out the pacifier hoping it would helps. Nope. I make her a bottle even though the sound isn’t her hungry sound. This early in the morning, I would try anything.

The bottle goes down with ease (like always), and I do a quick diaper change. Okay… let’s try this again. I put her back down in the crib and creep back into bed. A tiny Cock-a-doodle-do comes out. Followed by a louder version. Then a couple raspberries. And some laughing. Okay – I’m up, I’m up. And now, so is Chris. We have her on the bed playing with her so her vocal level would stay at a low tone. A few moments later we hear someone downstairs. Ohhh… Kensi, you’re in trouble :)

One thing we forgot to mention… the Bear Room doesn’t have a door on it. It’s upstairs above the kitchen, but the way the house peaks, there isn’t room for a door. There is a screen, and we have complete privacy, but a door would buffer the sound that little miss rooster is making. Because it was so late when we came in, we didn’t get a ‘lay of the land’, so we have no clue how close the other couples are to our room - hence the need for silence. The front door opens and we see someone heading out across the property. It must be Annie. She’s headed out to the barn to feed the horses. I run downstairs to see if coffee is brewing. No such luck. I wash out Kensi’s bottle and then head back upstairs to the cave.

I decide to occupy Kensi while Chris takes a shower and gets ready. I swear he takes his time. Oh… the eye. I forgot all about the eye. That’s why he’s in there so long. Chris comes out and it looks much better. It’s still a little swollen, but its open and he can see out of it. We’ll leave a little early and stop by a pharmacy.

It’s my turn to get ready and Chris heads downstairs with Kensington. He meets Annie and Walt and recaps our adventures the night before. I can hear her laughing in the kitchen so I head down (praying that coffee would be ready). “Juice? I have cranberry, apple, orange”. I go for the cranberry. “Do you want anything with it?”. “After last night, a little Grey Goose would be great”. One of the guest starts laughing and says that another couple said the same thing the day before. So Joseph and Joe are here already.

We continue to laugh at the prior evenings recap while Walt cuts up fresh fruit and Annie makes breakfast – an amazing frittata. Joe & Joesph come in with their little bundle, Ella – who is just adorable (she was born the day after Kensington… but has SO much more hair – gorgeous curly locks). We haven’t seen them since the Friends In Adoption holiday party in November, so there was a lot of catching up to do. We thought the park where the picnic was being held at was just down the road, so we took our time at the B&B, only to find out that it was 25 minutes away. Having no cell service, Chris started panicking. He was worried that our birthparents would be waiting longer than expected. His panic deepened when we missed our original turn and then hit a street fair that caused us to have to detour. Luckily, we were not the only ones to miss the turn, or hit the street fair. When we arrived at 10:30, there were only about a two-dozen people at the park and our bio-parents hadn’t arrived yet. Rushing to the park, we forget to try to find a pharmacy. Chris is just going to have to suffer with his eye. We found a great little spot in the shade, next to the lake. The park had about a dozen picnic tables lining the area, so we snatched one up and made the numerous trips needed to bring everything out of the truck. We over packed. Go Figure. The picnic table to the right of us had a group of 8 people… what seemed to be a birth mom, her parents and friends, waiting for their adoptive parents to show up, and when they did they were all excited to be reunited. Hugs and photos took place over the next couple of minutes. Chris and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes. We knew this was going to be the sight seen over the next couple of hours. Tissues? Did someone pack tissues? How could I forget tissues? I bet they’d have tissues at the pharmacy. It looks as though we will both be suffering today.

We started seeing familiar faces. Lots of them. Some couples from our FIA Getting Acquainted Weekend, some from the FIA Holiday Party, and others that we felt like we knew because we’ve read their profiles (multiple times) and have followed them on their blogs and the FIA website. Soon the masses came. There had to have been at least 250 people spread out over the park. It was self-arranged at how people chose their locations. As I looked across the area, you could see how the parents clustered themselves by age range of their kids. It could also be because they too setup camp next to their friends, but on the far side of the area (by the beach) you would see parents with older kids (2 and up), then there was the set of parents that had 12-24 month olds, then their was us that had the 2-12 month olds. In each of these groups, you could see the collection of gay parents with their families – what and absolutely amazing sight to see. There were four pairs of gay dads that grouped next to our picnic table - all of us were at the same Getting Acquainted Weekend back in August of 2007, now having sons and daughters ranging from 4 months – 9 months, and one of us with twins.

From the distance, I saw our bio-parents and our bio-mom’s sister, walking up from the parking lot. It was perfect timing. There were rounds of hugs followed by flashes of lights from everyone’s camera. Kensington was starting to get hungry so I asked Stacey, her bio-aunt, if she wanted to give her a bottle while Chris, S and S caught up on their travels to Vermont. Over the next several hours, we all spent time admiring Kensington, taking tons of photos, eating (my ‘home-made’ fried chicken with seven herbs and spices with the Mango Salsa – a Pecken’s Family recipe - on the side), and sharing stories of our lives over the past 6 ½ months, as well as injected moments socializing with the other gay dads. The day could not have been more perfect. At one point, due to the sun moving and the picnic table no longer being in the shade, you saw one parent from each of the couples lining the tree line with our babies in tow, protecting our little squirts from the UV’s.

It was time for the Friends In Adoption group photo (how do you take a group photo of 250 people?). We all gathered in one area. We ended up being in the back (go figure). Chris was throwing Kensi up in the air, and I warned him that the last time he did this, she puked in his mouth. As I said the words – yep, you guessed it – she puked in his mouth. I almost wet myself from laughing… so did S&S.

It’s now almost 4pm and Friends In Adoption has invited everyone back to their agency (which just underwent a huge capital campaign to renovate their building), so they could do a dedication ceremony. About 100 of us trekked over to their Middletown Springs building and checked out their new digs. After a while, Chris, Kensi and I, along with S&S (who would be staying the night with us) decide to head back to the B&B so we could arrange for our own dinner. Kensi’s sleep schedule has totally been blown for the day. She took a small nap at the park, but not nearly the amount of time that she should have. Once back at the B&B (Walt and Annie moved us into the Moose room so S&S could have the Bear Room), I put Kensi down for a nap, Chris headed to town for dinner, and S&S walked some of the 150 acres of property. Twin Mountain Farms is absolutely stunning. Annie tells S&S about a cabin that they have across the way and that they should check it out, but they hold off until Chris comes back. Kensi’s nap is only 20 minutes. She should sleep well tonight (fingers crossed).

After dinner, I suggested that they walk to the cabin (6/10 of a mile away) and I’d stay behind with Kensi. Unfortunately, they took the wrong path (and went in the wrong direction) and ended up… guess where, guess where??? Yep. You guessed it, they ended up on Margaret’s property and were ‘greeted’ by Clint (?), her husband who was out on the property. He asked Chris if he was one of the guys that entered his house the night before, and Chris apologized – once again – for our error. Thank God he wasn’t home when we did enter (is that why she left the light on?).

By the time Chris, S&S came back (disappointed that they didn’t find the cabin), Joe, Joseph & Ella had come in and were in the living area. The eight of us stayed up for awhile, letting the girls play a bit. S&S shared with us some of the scrapbook pages that they had made with the pictures we’ve sent, as well as the ones they’ve found on the blog.

Around 8 pm it was time for the girls to sleep (hallelujah) and J&J went back to the Wolfs Den (the cabin next to the main house). We stayed up with S&S for about another two hours talking. By the time we were headed to bed, we were all exhausted from the activities of the day. We decided to find the cabin in the morning (which I know you will enjoy that story). I crank in the air conditioner and set it to 70. Hopefully, if the rooster wakes up early in the morning, the sound of the AC will drowned her out.

One could hope, right?


[Due to the sensitivity of the subject, and wanting to respect the privacy of both the adoptive parents and birth parents at the picnic, as well as the privacy of the kids, we decided not to post pictures of this event. Our apologies... but we know that you understand]

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bio-Family Reunion (Day 1)

Our adoption agency, Friends In Adoption, hosted their annual Family Picnic this past weekend in Vermont. With more than 250 participants, the event was a fun-filled event celebrating the families that FIA has helped create through adoption.

We had an amazing time, and Kensington was reunited with her bio-parents... but getting to Vermont on Friday was an event within itself. This post may be a little longer than our past entries, but I guarantee you - if you read to the end, you will be glad that you did. Trust.

Chris and I were both working only a half day on Friday and it was our plan to leave Pennsylvania no later than 2 pm. With any luck, we would be at the Bed & Breakfast - Twin Mountain Farms - no later than dinner time.

Five minutes after I left the office and headed home, I received a call from Chris. He left his headlights on and his car battery was dead and he was running a little late. He had a charger in his car, but it also was dead. He needed to plug it in and it should only delay him about 20 minutes. No Biggie. We'd still make it by dinner time (I'm hoping you can sense that this is just the beginning of our travel delays).

About a half hour after the first call, I receive another... the charger isn't charging, but he has a co-worker that has one and that should work. It should only be a few more minutes before Chris is on his way. Unfortunately, a few minutes later another call arrives. That didn't work, and because he was in a parking garage, it was difficult for a car to jump him directly.

Chris's option is now to borrow his boss's car and buy a car battery. It should be a thirty minute round-trip affair. Key word was should. When Chris went to buy the battery, he was told that the make/model of his car actually had three different types of batteries. What?!?!? Okay... at this point I would clearly use the 'gay card'. I don't know anything about cars, but I would have bet money that a car would only have one option for a battery size.

Chris bought the most common battery... only to find out that it wasn't the right one. He had to go back to the store to buy another one - the right one - once he wrote the model number down. [looking at this, I would have bought all three batteries and returned the other two, but that's just me]

After everything that was said and done, Chris left New Jersey at 4pm.

When Chris got home, just before 6, the truck was packed and Kensington and I were ready to go. Who needs dinner at the B&B when you can easily just eat some crappy junk food on the road, right?

Taking a closer look at Chris, I noticed that he had a hole in his dress shirt because battery acid leaked all over while he was changing the battery. Thank God Lands' End makes thick shirts! Chris decided to wash up, quickly, and from the other room I heard, "Paul, can you take a look at something for me?" Uh oh. Did more battery acid splash on him? His right eye had started to swell. He said that he felt some pain prior to his car issues, so we ruled out acid in the eye. Under the light, it looked like he had an ingrown eyelash that was causing irritation. No biggie. We'd stop by the store and pick up some eye wash on the way.

6:25pm and we're in the car, ready to go. I turn to Chris, "Okay. THIS is the start of the weekend. Everything else that has happened, let's leave it behind. We'll be a little late tonight, but it's not an issue. We can't let what has happened today define how this weekend is going to take place." We plugged the iPod in, and assigned the soundtrack of our travels. Off we go.

Ten minutes into the trip I remind Chris to call the B&B to tell them we're going to be late. The road to New York state is lined with huge trees that cover the pavement, so reception isn't the greatest. Chris decided to call once we crossed the state line.

By the time we made it to New York, Chris' eye has almost swollen shut. We stop at the store for eye wash and a heat pad. The pain has also gotten worse. It looks like we will be making a trip to the hospital [What is that wait going to look like?]. We then start searching for a CVS MinuteClinic or a Mr. Z's Careworks on the iPhone. There is nothing in the area. But we did find a county clinic 20 miles away that is open until 9pm.

Oh, did I mention it's now pouring down raining?

Chris calls Annie at the B&B and tells her that we are now going to be extremely late. She tell us not to worry about it, there is another couple that will be arriving late and she will leave a note on the door for them not to lock the door on us. She tells us that we will be in the "Bear" room, which is located above the kitchen, so she will leave the light on in the room for us. She also tells us that the road that they are on is a dirt road. "Just as a heads up."

It's now 8:15 and we're pulling into the clinic. It looks like there is no line so we should be in and out in no time. And we were. 20 minutes later we found out that Chris had two stye's, and with some ointment from the pharmacy, it should be down to normal size within 24 hours. There is just one problem... by the time we make it to the pharmacy, it was about to close. Chris explained that we were from out of state, and headed to Vermont and we stopped at a clinic, but the moron behind the Walmart counter refused to help. He told us to go down the street to another pharmacy, but told us that it too closed at 9pm and we'd never make it in time.

I spend time looking for a 24 hour pharmacy on the GPS and find one. We plug it into the trips map and, once again, off we go. By the time we get to the area, it's raining so hard that I can't see the exit signs. The area I'm supposed to get off at has major construction, and detour signs, and missing exit numbers. I end up missing the exit and have to drive two miles to the next exit to turn around. On the way back, I miss the exit again. I swear there wasn't a sign for 7N. I saw a 7B, 7A (why are they out of order?), and 7S. No 7N. I end up having to drive three miles back towards our home to turn around again. Guess what, still no 7N. I get frustrated. "Chris, I'm sorry. It's pouring raining. I can't see. I can't find the exit. The GPS tells me to turn where the road is blocked. I can't detour. You're going to have wait until the morning to stop at the pharmacy. We're already so late at the GPS says we're not going to arrive until after 1am in the morning. If we head to the pharmacy, that's in the opposite direction, it will put us another 45 minutes behind schedule." Chris agrees, reclines his seat, and goes to sleep.

By 1:15, we're in Middletown Springs, Vermont. I turn on the dirt road that Annie informed us about. After the first 10 yards on the road, both Chris and Kensi wake up. The road isn't meant for a car, let alone a SUV. It looks like it's a road made for quads. But there was a road sign, and the GPS did tell us to turn. It's rained so hard that it's washed out and has huge pot holes in it. The chimes attached to Kensington's car seat are now flying around. The GPS says we will be on this road for 4 miles. OMG!!! The truck is now fishtailing because of the mud. I put it into 4 wheel-drive. At one point, I ended up stopping the truck. We're sitting on top of a hill, and I can't tell if there is a road in front of me. "Chris, I don't know if I can drive this is reverse for two miles to get out of this. I think we're driving down a trail, and not a road."

I'm now inching the car to see if there is any resemblance of a road in front of us. Tree branches are hitting the windshield and the side of the truck. This is not fun for any of us, but we couldn't have been prouder of Kensi. While she made some noises, she didn't cry one bit. About a half mile before the B&B, the road opens up. We're now on a real dirt road. We found out that it brought us the back way, and not the route that Annie had told us to go.

FINALLY, we see light from the home and as we begin to pass it, the GPS tell us that we just passed our destination. I end up trying to turn around to head back to the driveway. Because it was still raining so hard, I missed the driveway again. We pull in, and we see a car with Connecticut plates (Yeah... Joe & Joesph are here).

Chris grabs Kensi and her diaper bag and runs to the house. The door is wide open so he sets her down in the foyer. I run in with my hands full... our bags and the pack-n-play. We're soaked. Standing in the foyer, and with each step we take, the floor creaks. Kensi is just staring at us.

The floors were gorgeous. It looks like someone cut a tree down the middle and placed the trunks side-by-side. There was a living area to the right and a living area to the left. Annie told us that there were two living areas and that she'd reserve one for us so we could spend time visiting with Kensington's bioparents. This place is perfect for us.

From the outside of the house, we could see the light on in the bedroom above the kitchen... we just couldn't find how to get to the room. Chris has his iPhone and is using it as a flashlight, and I'm using my blackberry (that is about to die at any moment) that I'm using to gauge where I'm walking to. I walk into the kitchen/dining room area and it's huge. It's probably the size of the first floor of our home. The table is set for twelve and the kitchen area looks like it's going to be a great place to hang out. Chris opens one door and it's a bathroom. Another door and it's a linen closest. I walked to one area and it's the mud room / laundry room with a door (which is open) leading to the outside of the house. I find some light switches and turn them on. We then open another door and find the staircase. It's about time!

Houston, we have a problem. There are items on each stair. Shoes, boxes, papers, magazine... you name it, it was on it. "How does she expect us to carry a pack-n-play and suitcases up this?" Then came the kicker, "Chris, I don't see the light on in the room." I refuse to go up.

Chris goes to check it out and realizes it's the stairs to the attic/storage area, not the Bear Room. Kensington is starting to get a little restless, so now I'm walking around (on my tip toes) with her car seat in hand. Chris decides to go up to the main staircase to see if the room is up there. With each step he takes, on the stairs and on the upstairs hallway, I can hear him. My biggest fear is that we wake up everyone in the house. I give Chris two minutes before I head upstairs. Chris sees me and frantically waves me away. He walked into the room with the light on and there was a guest laying on the bed, sleeping. He apologized, but doesn't think he work her up. Clearly, this wasn't our room.

I walked into one of the living area and and couldn't find any doors to another room. Now I'm starting to get frustrated. "I'm just sleeping here. Seriously. There are two couches, and plenty of room to set up the pack-n-play. It's fine... when someone wakes up, they can show us to our room." Chris doesn't like this idea so we go into the other living area looking for doors.

In this room, there is a small serving table, that has two place mats and tea cups in place (I hope they have English Breakfast or Earl Grey ready in the morning). "Chris, you need to call Annie. I don't care if it wakes up people. It's now almost 1:30 and I'm freak'n exhausted." Chris looks at his phone and notices he doesn't have signal. Neither do I. "This is just GREAT!" Chris wants to go outside and see if he can get a signal there. "Chris, YOU ARE NOT leaving me alone in this house. With our luck tonight, this isn't even our B&;B. Watch someone walk down the stairs with a gun - they will shoot us for breaking into their house."
We laugh, and then I notice that there is a Christmas tree up in the corner of the room. Chris picks up a pile of mail on the table and it doesn't say Annie or Walt - the proprietors. "I think we're in someone's home." and it was with those words that we hear someone walking down the stairs.
"What are you doing in my house?!?!"
"Annie?" Chris says.
"No. I'm not Annie"
"We thought we were at our Bed & Breakfast. We're so sorry. Look, we have a baby. We don't mean you any harm." Words I never thought I'd have to say.
"How long have you been in my home?"
"We just arrived. We were told the light in the room above the kitchen would be on, and the front door would be unlocked. Your door was wide open."
"This is Vermont. We leave our doors open here."
"We know..."
"How many of you are here?"
"Just the two of us, and the baby. Thank God you don't have a gun!"
"The B&B is next door. We've had people stop here before looking for it, but no one has ever entered our house before! Do you know what time it is? Who arrives at a B&B this late?"
"Again, we're sorry. We've had the worst trip ever. That's why Annie said she'd leave the door unlocked and the light on for us."
"let me grab my shoes and I will show you where you need to go. [notices the lights on in the kitchen]. I didn't leave those lights on!"
"That was me... again, we were looking for our room above the kitchen." [thank God she didn't wake up when Chris entered her bedroom. But honestly... what adult do you know that sleeps with her lights on?!?!?]

She heads to get her shoes and I run outside with Kensington and her diaper bag. Margaret (we later found out her name) came out of the side door. "Where is the other one?" (meaning Chris). "He's inside... he was waiting for you to put your shoes on. We weren't expecting you to come out of a different door. Honestly, there is only two of us. We are soooo sorry." She heads back inside to get him and she points us in the right direction.

"It's right next door. I don't know how you missed it." Well, we do... we got in the car and it was a mile down the dirt road. We saw the B&B and the light was on in the room above the kitchen, and there was a note on the door welcoming us.

Needless to say, this is a night that we will NEVER EVER forget!!!

Before we turn in for the night, I turned to Chris and said, "Okay. THIS is the start of the weekend. Everything else that has happened, let's leave it behind. [I begin to laugh]
Thank God that woman didn't have a gun!"

Monday, July 13, 2009

Marriage for Some is a new documentary that explores the difficult and often painful predicament of same-sex partners who are prevented from legalizing their union by civil law. It's being produced by Daedalus Productions, a not-for-profit film and television production company, to advance the cause of same-sex marriage equality.

I'm sure many of you would love to see this film, but they still need to raise some money to complete it. Hence this post... it's to help make people aware of their new website, www.marriageforsome.org, where you can learn more about the movie and the individuals involved with the production as well as make a tax-deductible donation.

We all know that that times are tough right now for almost everyone, but if you do have a few dollars to spare, I'm sure they would greatly appreciate it. And if you're independently wealthy and have always dreamed of becoming involved with a worthy film project, here's a great opportunity.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Helping Dads Navigate Strange Territories

Parenting in the 21st century is challenging and confusing for most parents. Families look and are different than years ago. More and more gay and lesbian couples are adopting or using surrogacy as a means of building families. Gay and straight dads are raising kids more and more and more (SAHD/SAD's - Stay at home dads), and more are the primary caregivers. We have to parent differently now.

What values do we want to pass on?

What do we want to teach our kids?

What kind of people do we want them to be?

Dads need to provide an environment for their children that is nurturing and loving with clear expectations and consequences that teach but do not shame. A Parent Coach can help with these challenges.

Here are the 10 of the most Frequently Asked Questions of a parenting coach.
By Susan P. Epstein, LCSW, Parent Coach

1. Question: What are some key reasons that a dad would seek out a Parent Coach’s help?

Answer: You have a child with difficult behavior (lack of respect, anger, back-talk, interrupting, tantrums, etc), or who is acting out or not doing well in school. Also if you are going through: divorce, remarriage, blending a family, trauma or loss, teen alcohol or drug use, or if you want to improve family communication, balance or support.

2. Question: What should I look for in a Parent Coach?

Answer: An expert in the areas of child development and family dynamics. They should be non-judgemental, good at building rapport, creative (they tailor plans to your family’s needs), patient, and a good teacher and mentor.

3. Question: What if I have already read parenting books and taken my child to a therapist and I am still struggling?

Answer: That’s okay and it means that you are searching for answers. Parent coaching can help because the coach works with you to tailor a parenting plan for your family.

4. Question: I have a special needs child and/or my child has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, Conduct Disorder or Bipolar Disorder. Can a parent coach help us?

Answer: Absolutely, most children/teens will respond to a behavioral plan if the plan is designed for their developmental stage and age.

5. Question: Is waiting until your child is a teenager too late to change their behavioral patterns?

Answer: It is best to start as early as possible. But, even if they are 16 or 17 years old you can still turn that behavior around fairly quickly with the right plan.

6. Question: What is the biggest challenge that dads face in today’s world?

Answer: That has to be a combination of disrespect from their children and parent guilt. They go hand in hand. “If I discipline my child for being inappropriate he won’t like me but then I feel guilty because I know that I am not setting limits and this isn’t good for him.” A dad may feel guilty because he is stretched thin and overwhelmed. This is especially difficult with divorce where the kids are going back and forth between two homes. If dad doesn’t want to be “the bad guy” he might let behaviors go that need to be addressed.

7. Question: What are some of the biggest fears that dads have?

Answer: Dads believe that if they yell and scream at their kids that they will damage their children for life. They are also told that if they spank their kids that Child Protection Services will be knocking on the door. Some dads are afraid to utilize their power and feel as if their hands are tied and they don’t know what to do.

8. Question: How does parent coaching take place?

Answer: Weekly parent telephone sessions and email, group parent telephone sessions, in-home sessions, and coaching products like books, DVDs and audio CDs.

9. Question: What if I am interested in hiring a parent coach but not sure?

Answer: Most parent coaches will provide a free consultation to see if you can work together.

10. Question: How long would I work with my parent coach and what are the costs?

Answer: Every coach has their own recommendations based on the family situation. Minimum is usually 3 months up until 12 months. Sometimes after a period of time weekly calls aren’t as necessary and the appointments can be shorter and less frequent.

Susan P. Epstein, LCSW, Parent Coach, is an expert in the areas of family dynamics, parenting and child development. Susan will uncover and unleash your parenting power. Visit her site at www.ParentingPowers.com

Monday, July 6, 2009

Today I Watched You Sleeping...

Sitting beside you, I watched our angel sleep.

Legs crossed, tiny toes flickering... one arm stretched out. Your fingers signing out your dreams.

Little rump in the air, shaking like a puppy in a pet shop window.

Whisper sounds escaping from your plump lips, back lifting with each breath you take.

Our Love. Our Joy. Sweet Dreams...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Need a Lift?

Just one more reason to keep shopping at Ikea!

Thanks to Dana Rudolph over at The Bilerico Project who post this actual photo from the IKEA in Stoughton, Massachusetts (Slight color correction, but otherwise not PhotoShopped.)

There was, in fact, another elevator next to it with a man, woman (stick figure in a dress) and a child.

The only thing that could have made this better is having one of the men holding furniture assembly instructions with the other figure having a question mark above his head. For those of you you've ever put Ikea furniture together, you know far to well what I'm talking about :)