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10/05/2009

Though the sun goes down, it will rise tomorrow and life is not over yet

It's been about 3 months since I've blogged but I feel like it's been about a year since I've really had anything worthwhile I've wanted to write about. I've looked at the blogs on my blogroll and most of them haven't blogged in months either. Some have even signed off of blogging permanently.

I don't want to give blogging up, but I still feel stalled. When Kristin was a baby, blogging gave me a sense of community with other alternative families and an outlet to share joys and questions. She's older now and starting to keep a journal of her own. The need I got fulfilled from blogging is no longer there. I suspect the same for the other bloggers on my blogroll who don't blog much anymore. Our kids are older now, our needs have changed and our lives have gone on.

We're doing just fine. We started Lavender Families, a google group for LGBT families in the Monterey Bay area and we have about 14 families now, with kids of all age groups. We're spread out, with families in Carmel, Santa Cruz, Pacific Grove and Salinas, so we have infrequent gatherings, but it's a start. The fears and uncertainties that led me to reach out via blogging have subsided dramatically, while never completely going away. I suspect that is part of parenting though and will always exist to some degree.

I wonder if Facebook and Myspace will bring about the end of blogging. I want to take my blogging in a new direction, and get that old fired up feeling again, but I don't want to spend too much time on something if it's going to become obsolete. I tried Facebook, I just can't get into it. As it is now, I'm spending too much time on Twitter, something that really is counterproductive to writing.

I'm still unemployed. My career has stalled. It isn't just my blogging where I feel a loss of a sense of direction. I've been avoiding focusing on my career problems, by throwing myself into running the household/family. You know sometimes when you don't know what to do, you avoid the problem. I do Web Project Management and Database Asset Management. I'm 44. The career field is dried up for someone my age. Apparently I need to start over.

Life goes on. I will find something. I enjoy writing fiction, I enjoy cooking (no formal training) and I am at the point in my life, where I feel I really just need to supplement our income and still keep my focus on running the family/house. I no longer want a career that will require large amounts of time away from home. I'm happy with househusband as the primary role for me. Writing fiction, politics, gardening, cooking and more... of the things I enjoy, I imagine my blogging will start to go in one of those directions, just which one yet, I'm still not sure.

6/17/2009

Reflections and Going Forward

Last Saturday we had our first annual Family Pride Picnic. It was great fun, I think about 80 people showed up, which is pretty good for a first time thing. As soon as we can find the computer chip with all the pics, I'll upload some.

This whole past week has made me very reflective on how people come and go in our lives. I probably blogged about this feeling already, it hits me every time someone drifts apart from us. While I embrace change because it usually means progress, there is also something very comforting in the familiar.

I think Toney and I are going to be scaling back on our activism. We've come so far as a community, and we aren't giving it up, but reprioritizing. While we are passionate for equality, it seems that the married people in this town do more for equality than the single people. Not exclusively, there are exceptions, but it doesn't make much sense to fight for someone else's civil rights, when they are too busy to do it themselves.

We will get a lot of our time back. We will still focus on getting the diversity center in town and we will do more on a state level, rather than locally. Perhaps help Gavin Newsom's campaign, or work with the Courage Campaign. Everything has been all worth it. We've met some great people and we've made a difference in this town, the success of the pride picnic is just one example of that.

It's been a great year, I wish I had blogged more of it.

5/31/2009

How Prop 8 changed our little gay family forever

I remember the first Blogging for LGBT Families Day, Dana (Mombian) wasn't sure about how to approach it and emailed me and we discussed it and I encouraged her to just dive in and do it. Now, 4 years later, it is like this huge event with hundreds of LGBT parents blogging their lives, sponsors and no sign of slowing down. Congrats to Dana for creating something so profound and important for our community.

Our family consists of me, my husband Toney and our daughter Kristin, 6 years old. We were married during the brief window of legal opportunity in California, where we reside. To get a synopsis of our life, check out my blog, I've been blogging our gay family life since Kristin was in diapers.

I think what I want to point out this time, is how Prop 8 changed our little gay family, here in this conservative farming town of about a quarter million. Before Prop 8, it was just the three of us, living day to day, trying to get by and experiencing the shunning that many families can feel in a small-town mentality community where diversity and outsiders are frowned upon. This town had no organized gay community, no bars or other alcohol free meeting places, no LGBT family groups, no diversity center, no gay social events, absolutely nothing whatsoever.

In fact, it was why I turned to blogging originally, to find some other LGBT families, to find a sense of community and to have an online diary that hopefully like minded people would eventually come across.

Then Prop 8 came about. During the months leading up to Prop 8, about 6 LGBT people got together and starting making phone calls from the phone book, just calling everybody and urging them to vote no on Prop 8. That was it, that was this town's organized resistance. Well, Prop 8 passed and suddenly all the gay people in this town, us included, were royally pissed. Thankfully, Toney and I had gotten married during the window of opportunity, but it was a bittersweet moment. Was it to be taken from us? If not, it's still disheartening to know that other members of our community were now shut out. It made us feel like freaks in a zoo, the "special" gays who now fit in neither group. It was just all so wrong.

So Toney and I created a website for those 6 LGBT people and with the website, and the anger from Prop 8, they grew from 6 people to over 300. We are working on becoming a non-profit, we are organizing and we are on schedule to have a diversity center in this town by Thanksgiving. That is going from 6 people to having a center in one year's time. An incredible feat. We have social events, we rally and have protested in front of city hall and the courthouse. Kristin helps us make signs, and best of all, we have community now. We have met the best people in the world, passionate, caring and angry LGBT people. We have met other gay families with kids, so now Kristin finally has families she can relate to. I have been able to sit down with the moms and we discuss raising kids in this environment. A very supportive atmosphere where we can understand and relate to what each other is going through, whether it is ostracization at the school, or by other parents, whatever the reason, a HUGE burden has been lifted from my shoulders and our small, conservative town is now much different for us LGBT parents. We have each other now to turn to. In addition to all the work our equality group is doing to support the community overall, (the diversity center, we've brought PFLAG and local GSAs together to discuss what can be done to help each other, we've created events for LGBT people to socialize at) there are events soon taking place specifically for LGBT families too. We are having our first family pride picnic in June, we are going to create a family support group, family get togethers and our community is getting stronger and more connected. I don't think this ever would have happened without Prop 8.

After any natural disaster, whether it is earthquake, flood or tornado, life will grow back, stronger and better than before. The same thing has happened in the aftermath of Prop 8. We are stronger, we are better and we are 1,000 times more united than before. There is no going back, in the space of less than a year, our community has gone from a lone little seedling to a full grown tree, covered in pink blossoms. This town will never be the same.

5/29/2009

Summer Vacation Just Days Away

I can't wait for the summer. Just about two more weeks of school then it's over. Since I'm currently unemployed, I'm going to be semi-working as Daddy DayCare. Two other 6 year old girls and one 9 year old boy will be spending the days with us. I'm looking forward to it, we are going to have a great time doing activities, science stuff, cooking, picnics, and I will be getting a tad bit of compensation for it.

Best of all, two of the kids have a lesbian mom, they just moved into town recently. So cool, we met through our equality group. It couldn't come at a better time, because Kristin's best friend at school has been pulling back from Kristin. During family discussions about Prop 8, religion and life in general, we told Kristin that some people believe in God. I'm agnostic and explained that to her, and about respecting people's different choices. So, Kristin told us that she wants to believe what we believe. We just told her that she doesn't have to make up her mind right now.

So she apparently told her best friend that she didn't believe in God, and her best friend has been pulling back now, saying things like "I don't want to play with you, if you don't believe in God."

They are only 6 and to already be so close minded is sad. They were best friends for almost 2 years. What is this little girl going to do when she comes across a Muslim child or a Jewish child? They don't believe in Jesus. Her world is going to be very small, but people like that tend to prefer it that way, anyway.

So, school is ending, their being around each other will soon be over, and we are going to have a house full of kids who are open minded, some who believe and some who don't, but none care about each other's opinion. It just won't be brought up, it won't matter. They just want to play. And at 6 years old, that is as it should be.

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Earlier this month, I won a contest at GreenDad's Blog. I won a video about gay dads and have donated it to Salinas Valley Equality, as one of the few pieces in our group's library. Thanks to Green Dad's Blog!

5/22/2009

How our mind colors things for us

Here is a great way you can teach your child about eyes and how we see color.

Stare at the dot in the middle of the picture during the countdown. If you stare only at it, then the image looks colored. But if you move your eyes, you will see the picture in black and white.

5/04/2009

124 days into the year, want to talk about resolutions?

How many resolutions have you been able to keep this year?

Back in January, I blogged about changing our diet to include less meat, and to have more frequent, smaller meals than the typical large 3 meals a day that I was raised on.

Last night we watched Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Network and after 4 months of modified dining habits, I was pretty shocked at what I saw. That show is pretty good at finding the unhealthiest and yet tantalizing food in the country. If I had seen that show a year ago, my mouth would have watered at all the gravy, melted cheese, heaping plates and fried foods I saw. I won't say it was repulsive to see (although if I look on down the road, I can see where it might repulsive to me someday), but as it stands now, seeing that food didn't set off any receptors in my brain.

One of the diners in the show (and I notice that 90% of them are overweight) had this huge plate of something in front of him and he commented "It's a stick to your ribs meal."

That's the kicker for me. I was used to a double quarter pounder with cheese for lunch, and then I wouldn't have to eat again until dinner. Now I can do one can of soup (servings: 2) and eat some tortilla chips a few hours later. It might not be perfect, but it's a far cry from the way I used to eat, and at least they aren't greasy chips.

I think the hardest part of modifying our diet has been portion control. I used to laugh at the nutrition labels. How many servings? Please. I'd eat 4 or possibly 6 servings of something, (and I've never been more than 20 pounds overweight. I know I'm sounding very obese here). But now I can eat much more reasonable portions, I just have to eat more frequently. Snacking on an apple isn't quite the stick to your ribs meal I was used to, but I'm getting used to it now. And the best part of the deal? Yes, I have more energy throughout the day. When you eat something heavy, you just want to sit there, because your body has to spend the energy digesting. I'm glad to say I'm free of that now.

4/24/2009

When the 80's ruled the world

I mentioned before, (I think), how frustrated I get with youtube. I'll do a search for a song and get 10 million results of live versions filmed with some jerking cell phone, or someone's karaoke version from their bedroom, done quietly because their parents are downstairs. Not exactly what I'm looking for.

So I found Imeem, which I've really gotten to love. The interface is great and the songs are album uploads. Some live versions, but not enough to overwhelm search results.

Long story short here, I'm moving my playlists over from youtube to Imeem and I just saw the channel views for my playlists, which I based on decade. If you ever wondered which decade had the best music, this should answer it. Here are my playlists and their channel views.

60's music videos.......8 views
70's music videos.......9 views
80's music videos.....609 views
90's music videos.....101 views
2000's music videos....41 views
Animation...............5 views
Broadway................6 views
Television..............3 views
Movie Soundtracks......11 views

Blogging as income

I saw an article at the Huffington Post that stated that almost 1% of all Americans now earn their primary income blogging. There are more professional bloggers than there are firefighters in this country.

Well there is my part time work. That's what I need to do, because it's home based, and I could still homeschool and set my own hours. And I love to blog. I don't think Adamant Sun would go beyond what it is now though, just an online diary of a gay parent. But I can look into creating other blogs, perhaps food or gardening, or a life in the central valley type of blog. The idea is still percolating in my head, but I think this is the direction for me.

Do any of you make money on your blogs? Care to share any experiences, success stories or stories of failure?

4/21/2009

Homeschooling

So here is what we've decided. I'm going to look for part-time work, and starting in the fall make my primary focus homeschooling Kristin.

Right now, she is reading two grade levels higher than her current grade level, and she is the top scorer in everything in her class. She's not being challenged and it's making her rebellious. We had talked with the teacher about possibly advancing her to second grade but were advised against it, because there are still some things, like punctuation, for example, that she has yet to learn. She can read, but she can't tell you the reason for the quotations or comma.

Okay, that makes sense, she's not ready to advance a grade, we don't want to skip over anything but the class isn't moving fast enough for her. Because it must move (it seems) at the rate of the slowest child, she gets bored. I'm fairly confident that come the fall when I start to teach her second grade, by the end of the school year, we will be wrapping up third grade level stuff. I just think she can move that fast. I am not in any rush, so it's not me, it's just keeping up with her ability level. I'd like to learn different homeschooling methods, if I could teach some Montessori principles, that would be fantastic. Between now and the fall, I need to get some information on the scope of homeschooling.

3/31/2009

Wild Things



Saturday, Toney and I received training on how to be Triangle Speakers. While we were at the seminar, Kristin got to go to Wild Things, which is a ranch just outside of town where a bunch of Hollywood stars (animals) get to retire.



She got to meet the lions and monkeys that Disney used to make The Lion King (the animals that the animators used as models). There were also hyenas there, but if they were related to the hyenas in the movie, they were probably second generation.



Debating feeding the elephant.



Being cautious with the carrots.



That wasn't so bad!

3/26/2009

Victims of the recession

I'm officially unemployed today. My job is a victim of the recession and I just put my last paycheck into the bank.

It worries me, our way of life will drastically have to change. 1 in 5 people in Salinas are out of work, that's 20% of the town, almost twice the national average. Nobody is hiring.

I was contract/self-employed and since no one is hiring, I feel my best option is to start my own business. But I can't describe how monumental that feels, my career has stalled, and I feel too old to start over.

What I worry about most, of course, is Kristin.



I can weather this storm, we can get through this. But the future is very uncertain right now.

3/22/2009

The tooth fairy must work for the Treasury Dept.

Kristin lost another tooth last night, and while she was asleep we were looking around for some change for the tooth fairy, but we couldn't find any. It seems we use our debit card for most everything now and just found ourselves without any cash except a 10 dollar bill. This happened to us last time and we gave her a 5 dollar bill then. So now this morning Kristin is running around the house dancing and singing about how the tooth fairy gives out money in multiples of 5 and her next tooth should land her 15 bucks. I don't think even AIG executives were that lucky.

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I think I'm going to give up on youtube. I like watching old music videos but the site has become worthless in its search results. A lot of music, they didn't make into videos and I'm okay with listening to the music while some still photograph or similar is shown. However, I'm getting too many results now of people doing karaoke versions of songs from their basement or live cellphone captures of a concert which just doesn't have the sound quality. I just can't find what I'm looking for on youtube anymore. The original video of older songs. Imeem seems to be a good free alternative. It's videoless, but at least it focuses on the original version of a song and not some tone deaf person doing a cover from their home webcam.

3/02/2009

Seeing things only Time can show me

The first years of Kristin's life, I had no idea what to expect in terms of peers. I can see now I was overly paranoid, thinking that every time someone couldn't do a playdate or when she wasn't invited to a party, that it was personal, an indictment of our family.

Kristin has friends who have intolerant parents, it's after school hours (playdates) that seem to be a no-no, but by now, (1st grade), she has other friends whose parents have no problem and so I don't care. She's not alone and that was my biggest fear. The last three years of school (two years of preschool and one year of kindergarten) have shown me that kids come and go, parents are busy and dismissive of other parents besides me (showing me that my fears of it being personal are unfounded). There's lots of parents of young kids out there who don't associate with other families. Oh, that sounds bad, but it's not because I realize it's a universal thing, families are just busy, mostly. Having never been through parenting before, I didn't know what to expect. I expected the worst.

I had nothing to fear, but of course I didn't know that at the time, now I can look back on it and see. We are all families in the same boat.

2/26/2009

My life exposed

Monday I sat on a human sexuality panel at the Monterey Peninsula College. Originally, it was supposed to be a gay man, a bi person, a transgendered and a lesbian. No bi person or transgendered responded to the invite and the lesbian was sick, so the instructor managed to get someone else and it ended up being me and another gay man, a professor from the Naval Academy in town.

I was nervous at first, I'm not a public speaker by any means, but I got to tell my life story, which I think people needed to hear. I say that, not for any vanity reason but because I experienced a lot of harassment, violence and discrimination in my life. In telling my story, I also told about how and why we became parents.

When I was finished, the professor spoke and his story was as a (former) military man and what it was like to be gay under Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Then the question/answer part began and the students got to ask us questions. I would say 80% or more of the questions were about parenting. Everybody wanted to know everything about gay parenting.

It was a good experience to let people know what life is like for a gay man, specifically what life was like from the 80's to now. How far we have come as a community in that time. In the 80's there were no gay/straight clubs in school, no domestic partnership registries, no civil unions, no protections. It wasn't until 2003 when the sodomy law was struck down that we were no longer considered criminals. We've come far as a community, and I think I've gotten to experience all ends of the spectrum in my life, the closet, a wild life, depression and a downward spiral all the way to being a married suburban dad. Something that wouldn't have been considered possible for someone like me just 25 years ago.

It was good to speak of it all, and it was good to answer any questions people had. I sit on another panel again, the first week in March.

2/17/2009

Two great blasts from the past come forward

Two great blasts from the pasts to note.

First, this year is the 30th anniversary of Heart's Dog and Butterfly album.

The Las Vegas Sun reports:
The band is doing special events to mark the 30th anniversary of its classic album “Dog & Butterfly,” and the Wilsons are writing and illustrating a children’s book to honor the album.


I'm looking forward to that! What a great way to introduce Kristin to a classic album.

The second blast from the past comes from the old show Hair. Do you remember the lyrics to Age of Aquarius?

When the moon is in the 7th house and Jupiter aligns with Mars, then peace will guide the planet, and love will steer the stars. This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.


Well, apparently this past Valentines day, Feb. 14th, 2009, was actually when the moon was in the 7th house and Jupiter was aligned with Mars.

I don't actually follow astrology, but did read that. Perhaps now, we are actually entering a new Age.

2/08/2009

Uncertainty ahead

I think I'm going to end up on the unemployment line. The COO of the company I work for is new and slashing things within the company right and left. I need to submit a proposal on Monday or Tuesday, stating why they should continue to do business with me and offer them a new arrangement. But given how the meeting went last week, I know his mind is already made up.

This has been on my mind a lot lately. Is anybody else being affected by the recession?
I hear some people on the news saying it's not a recession anymore but a depression.

Kristin's friend is going to be homeschooled next year, because he just isn't being challenged in class and we feel the same for Kristin, and Toney would like for me to homeschool her next year. There is no way we can absorb the loss of my income though, so I don't know what's going to happen.

1/22/2009

Affection

I can remember when I was growing up, in the mornings my mom would usually be in her bathroom getting ready for the day, and as we went out the front door to head off to school, we would turn our head and shout, "We're leaving!". Then off we'd go. I never doubted, or even thought for a moment that mom didn't love me. It was just the way of the morning. No goodbye hugs or kisses. Maybe we shouted I love you to each other, I don't even recall.

I'm the same way on the phone with my family. Sometimes when we hang up, we say goodbye and I love you, but we don't always. One of my sisters I talk to every day or two and it just would seem odd to me to say I love you so often. But if I talk with them about something emotional, or we share something important to us, then the phone calls usually end in I love you's. But not if the phone call is just to find out something like how an appointment went that day or what are you having for dinner, that type of conversation.

Toney always insists on a hug and kiss goodbye as Kristin heads off to school. Then I also notice that her class (and ONLY her class), gives the teacher a hug everyday. The classroom is in one of those prefabricated buildings, so there is a ramp up to the door. Everyday after school, as I am there to pick her up, I see the class file in a single line on the ramp. This is the only class that does this. Then the teacher walks to the front of the line and gives everyone a hug goodbye. Some kids run around her, so she doesn't enforce or require the hug, but it's there for those who want it. Kristin waits in line for it everyday.

However, when I walk her to school in the morning, as we approach the school grounds, she will grab her stuff from me and run off saying "I can go the rest of the way." No hugs goodbye, no kisses. I think I'm more aware of it now, than when I was a child, because I see now all the hugging and kissing going on around me. I'm not affectionateless mind you, I am the one who stays with her while she does her teeth, bathes her, washes her hair, brushes her hair, climbs into bed with her at bedtime and reads her a story and then I hug and kiss her goodnight. I do always vocalize my love. I would like to think I am a good counterbalance to the affection she gets all day, I think too much lovey dovey all day can make a needy person. Perhaps I'm just trying to convince myself I'm doing the right thing though. Sometimes I wonder, because she's a girl does she need more affection than boys? And then I wonder if that is a misogynistic thing for me to wonder.

Kristin also likes to snuggle with Papi in the bed. I'm the one who usually has to put my foot down about bed space. I never slept with my parents, there were 4 of us kids, it just wasn't logistically possible, and while I'm not against it, per se, there just isn't room for such a large child in our bed anymore. We often wake up through the night, fighting over covers or me getting hit in the face by a moving fist or thrashing foot. Toney now agrees with me that she needs to stay in her own bed, but she still tries to bargain a snuggle every now and then. Of course that is okay. I know she knows I love her, I tell her all the time. It's just that I'm not a snuggler or an overly touchy-feely person, at least compared to those around me. I never have been. Toney mentioned it many times during our relationship, he got used to it, and Kristin is used to it as well, since it is all she has known. But I always wonder, how much is too much or too little?

1/14/2009

On the farm



1/12/2009

Resolutions

So far, I've been doing pretty good with my resolutions. Every year I get real psyched about them early on, but by summer, some of the more challenging resolutions have fallen by the wayside. I'm hoping to break that cycle this year.

Now that I'm in my mid 40's, heartburn is getting to be a bad problem. Caffeine seems to be partly responsible, so one of my resolutions is to change our diet. There are lots of reasons why I want to change our diet though, not just the ever increasing heartburn. We withdrew Kristin from ballet this week, she wanted to be a ballerina, but she just didn't want to practice, she viewed it as work. She likes to play on the computer, watch tv, or when she plays with her toys, it's usually barbies or dolls and she will sit there and play with them. She does little physical activity. When we "force" her to go outside and play, she will only run around for a bit, then she's eager to come back inside. We figure we all need to get up, get out and get more active this year, and changing diet is the best way to begin that.

I'm definitely a meat eater, I love bacon and eggs for breakfast, burgers for lunch, roasts or steaks for dinner, and that's how I've been my whole life, every meal must have a large portion of meat. I want to try and make meatless dinners about 3 times a week now. There's just no way I can cut it out completely.

I also read about people, who really work on being fit, eat every 3 hours or so. My body has been geared towards 2-3 big meals a day. Kristin is a grazer and likes to eat something every few hours. I've been trying to get her to get on the 3 meal a day schedule, since that seems to be what society is customized for. I'm thinking now, that we need to change our eating habits to be like her, rather than the other way around.

I'm taking these changes slowly so they will stick. These dramatic lifestyle changing resolutions are the ones that tend to fall by the wayside. I really don't want that to happen with this, so I'm making the changes as gradual as possible.

We made a deal with her, and in order to drop out of ballet, she enrolled in swimming. I'm betting that she will enjoy that and it will encourage exercise. She also got a larger bike for Christmas, from Santa, since she outgrew her last one. We are going to try and bike as a family several times a week. Most of the kids in the neighborhood are always on their bikes. There are kids her age who are already abandoning their training wheels. She won't really get on her bike and ride around, unless her daddies do it too. So, we're going to do it too. Somehow, I will find the way to encourage this child to get out and play.

12/19/2008

Christmas Break

Kristin learned about voting this past election. She has decided that she wants everybody in this house to vote on whether I need to find the time to get on the treadmill. She votes yes.

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We're wrapping up the first week of her three week Christmas break and so far it has gone dreadfully slow. We had a plumbing issue that required plumbers under the house replacing pipes. That took two days with no water. Now the satellite (tv) has been down for three days. Dish Network set up a window from noon to 5 one day, when the guy would be out, but he didn't show up until after 7. It was too dark for him to see outside, so he made arrangements to come back the next day between noon to 5. Between this and the plumbers, this has stuck Kristin and I at the house for days and with no tv to boot. Tis the season.

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One of the aftereffects of Prop 8, is that Toney and I have reconnected with the community. We've joined Salinas Valley Equality, which is a group that formed due to Prop 8. Toney and I have donated the website (we built, fund and maintain it). It's great to be involved in the community again.

We had a protest at Cinemark Theaters (they donated to Prop 8 and also refuse to show Milk in this town), although we missed that protest, and tomorrow there is a silent candlelight vigil to protest loss of rights, that we will be attending. We've hosted a meeting or two (I'm not sure if some of those were official), and I look forward to this coming year and seeing (I hope) our community become organized, effective and efficient in reaching people in this area and achieving equality.
 

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