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Entries in family (10)


Loving a Musician and His Music

When you are with a musician, you know the inside story to many of the lines and themes of their songs. It's the ultimate look behind the scenes of making the music.  I always smile at the line that sounds like "Champagne sunrise by the lake with you" because I remember the sunrise in Champaign, IL that Ash took me to 14 years ago, and the dew on the grass as we drank orange juice and stood holding hands waiting for whatever would come. What came was an orange glowing sun, stripes of pink, orange and blue, and a house and two kids many years down the road. 

When I put a song on, sometimes, my mind combs the song for things to hold on to. Sometimes it is the line itself. The memories of visiting our dear friend, Annie, in NYC when we moved to the east coast. Our 13-hour road trip to Montreal to find a canadian diamond engagement ring in January during a huge snowstorm here that resulted in the Candians laughing at us for visiting them in January and telling us the best place to buy Canadian diamonds was in Virginia near where we lived in Maryland. Sometimes it's not the lines themselves or the meanings of the songs that I hold dear. There's the music Ash performed while I met him on tour in Amsterdam and Paris before science had confirmed my pregnancy with Noah, but I was convinced a life Ash and I made bloomed inside of me. Then the tour in Japan where we hung out with Miyuki and the shows were amazing, the after parties more fun than I could ever describe, and the side trip to Kyoto where we stood hand-in-hand feeling alone in the mountains and we talked about how that exact feeling is what world peace would feel like. Ash's music reminds me of when we looked at the pictures we took in that mountain and how we felt so alone and at peace, but in truth, there were people all over around us. And how, upon realizing that we understood that must be what world peace feels like. When he told me he was ready for kids at the end of a song before he had told me in person. The times each of our children kicked furiously to the beat alone with their father's voice. The pain of the miscarriage I had between Noah and Maya and how lost I felt, and how I listened to Ebony Sea on repeat. The little boy with Cancer that would listen to Ash's music while in Chemo, and the young man that zoned out to it while his father died. 

 Ash's music gives people a window into his soul in a way that many other people never let anyone in. That coupled with the experiences, the discussions we've had and just being around him for the last 14 years means I'm that much closer to the core of him. I've long called Ash my own personal superman. Before kids, I would laugh that he was a brilliant engineer by day, an amazing rapper by night. Now, he does all of that and manages to be an amazing father. It helps that I love hip hop, and Ash is truly one of my all time favorite musicians, but not all of the memories are happy. There are tours I didn't want him to go on, lines that break my heart and so on. Loving a musician and their music means loving it all.

Ever since Ash started recording while we were together, I've annoyed him with "Is the song about me?" as soon as he walks in the door. It's no secret that with busy lives and trying to be the best parents we can be there is not as much time for things like recording. Recently, Ash has fit some sessions in with a friend, and they are creating some music together that Ash is enjoying. Earlier this week, Ash went to one of those sessions. This morning, on my way to driving Noah to school, I moved Ash's car. As I turned the key, the familiar voice of the man I love filled the car with a new beat. I only moved it across the lot, but I heard a line. "Do you know how much food costs these days?" and then "Do you know what private school costs?" I'm probably misquoting those lines. I only heard them briefly, but I know them all too well. I'm always overspending on the food budget, and Ash is always worried about tuition costs. 14 years of loving, and I still make my way into songs.

Let's all just hope that my *current* housekeeping skills didn't also make their way in to any songs.


Finding My Own Gender Identity

I grew up as the littlest sister in a family of three. My older sibling Aren came along a couple of years before me, and I looked up to Aren in every way. I had the typical little sister syndrome. I wanted to act, look and be like Aren. Aren played softball so I did. Aren agreed with the Democratic Party so I did, and so on. 

When Aren went to high school, and I was still in Junior High, Aren left the house before me, and because of after school activities, Aren came home after me. So every day, I would raid Aren’s closet. And I would wear Aren’s jeans and shirts to school. I remember being three inches shorter and a little stouter, but sliding those clothes on after Aren left each day and off again before Aren came home. 

In college, when I met my husband, neither of us dressed very fashionably. I wore flannel or plaid shirts most days with cargo pants, while he had tape holding his glasses together. Over the years, he started wearing glasses without tape, and I discovered that I liked heels and pink, a lot. And now, we both tease each other constantly about the tomboy he met, and the complete nerd I met. I’d never put much thought into what changed inside of me, although my husband often asks me what made me stop dressing in flannel. 

That is until recently, when Aren came to visit my family, and I finally confessed to Aren that when Aren was at school, I stole Aren’s clothes. And I explained to Aren how much I do and have always looked up to Aren. Then, in an instant, my whole view of myself changed. I had the realization that for most of my life until my 20s, I based my own gender identity on my transgender older sibling’s. I spent my life dressing and looking to fashion advice from Aren, and Aren didn’t identify as female. 

And so, somewhere in our 20s, Aren realized that Aren didn’t identify as female, and I realized that I did. Here we were, each on our own, allowed to finally decide for ourselves what we felt like inside. Aren’s insides screamed one thing, and mine screamed very loudly, “Pink, I love pink! Put me in pink heels, please!”


***This story was originally posted anonymously on the blog Genderqueer Chicago.  At that time, I changed my sibling's name to protect my sibling's identity.  I, of course, asked permission of both my sibling and Genderqueer Chicago before reposting this story here today.***



Bringing the Magic of the Polar Express Home

Two days ago, the kids and I finally ventured to buy tickets to a local Polar Express event.  For some reason, in 2012, the event required tickets to be purchased in person with check or cash.  I'd been meaning to stop by and grab tickets for a long time, but the logistics of a random stop with two small children to purchase tickets somewhere where I'd just have to chase my two active kiddos around meant I didn't rush to do it.  My procrastination meant I showed up with my two excited children at 5 pm the night before the event and all of the tickets were sold out.  Noah cried.  As a family, we'd talked about the magical night we were going to have.  Somewhere in the chaos and heart break, I promised I'd put together an amazing Polar Express night at home.

Yesterday, while Noah attended preschool, Maya and I headed out to buy ingredients for hot chocolate.  I decided I wanted to decorate our front door so that Noah would be excited and have a little preview of what our night was going to hold.  I googled 'Polar Express Door' and this google image came up so it was my inspiration.  After I made the door, my mind went wild.  I decided we'd have to make a train schedule for the day.  I set up six train stops: Dinner, Story time, A walk to Candy Cane Lane, Making hot chocolate and popcorn, Rides, and Movie time.  Things took off.  Before I knew it, I'd make the schedule and started writing out signs to put up in each room that we'd need to head to for the coorelating event.  Then, I decided to make train tracks on the ground at each stop so the kids would have something to be excited about.  I took some painter's tape out of laundry room and with Noah's help, I laid out the tracks.  

I cannot express with words the amount of magic, love and happiness that filled our house last night.  Everything about the night went better than I expected.  The kids were incredibly good sports the entire night.  We rushed to meet Ash outside when he got home from work, and I handed each person their ticket to the Llorens Polar Express.  The kids were giggling and squealing the whole night.  Ash and I had smiles permanently adorning our faces. 

Dinner and story time went well.  Then when it was time for the walk to Candy Cane lane, I showed Ash and Noah some Christmas light necklaces we had and the 'conductor hat' which was a headband with reindeer ears with a flashlight attached.  Maya and Ash took the necklaces and Noah took the flashlight so he could be our leader.  Candy Cane lane was our neighbor's house that has a ton of decorations and a walkway that is lined with beautiful Candy Cane shaped lights.  Noah loved taking a walk at night and Maya laughed and squealed the entire time.  While we were out, Santa left Noah a magic wish box.  The box was red and empty inside.  The idea is you open the box and make a Christmas wish.  Santa had known that Noah wanted a wish box and that he wanted to wish for a red light up star baton he could use for conducting at home.  

When we returned from our walk, Noah saw the box and yelled, "It's a magic wish box!"  Even though he's the one that told us about it, he was a little disappointed it was empty.  We had a moment where we had to have him close his eyes and then a red baton for him and an extra baton for Maya magically appeared.  After that Ash and the kids played in the living room and I made homemade hot chocolate and popped some popcorn on our stove top.  

 Everyone loved the night, and we were all so happy and tired that we didn't even turn the movie on.  Both kids fell asleep happy.

This morning, I asked Noah if he enjoyed going to the Polar Express.  He looked up at me smiling and said, "Mom, we didn't go to the Polar Express!"

A little caught off guard, I asked, "What did we do last night then?"

He looked up, his eyes wide with wonder, and said, "Mom, we played a fun game."


Noah's Voice: Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream Speech

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King gave the "I have a dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial with his eyes on the reflecting pool and the Washington Monument.

Not a day goes by where I personally do not feel grateful for Martin Luther King and the path he paved for our family.  We feel his love and protection every day, not just on the anniversaries of his birth, death and important speeches. 

Today, I asked Noah if he remembered talking about Martin Luther King and his dream.

Me:  Do you remember who Martin Luther King is? 

Noah:  He's a statue in Chicago, Mommy.  No Washington, DC.  He looks like Daddy and dreamt about Baby Maya and me.  And Daddy and you!

Me: Do you think Martin Luther King would be happy with our family?

Noah: Yes, and he would be happy that Gioia and I are friends.  We both have curls in our hair, Mommy!

His friend Gioia has bright blonde hair and is one of the most important little people in Noah's world these days. 

Thanks Martin Luther King for being one of the brave voices who paved the way for families like ours.  You're why we try to pay it forward.


Love Is...

Last year, on blogging for LGBT families day, I recommitted to helping lgbt families in Maryland receive equal protections under the law here.  I'm proud to say that our family lobbied in Annapolis, spoke with people we knew, made phone calls, wrote letters and witnessed our governor signing the marriage equality legislation into law.  

 With full hearts, we're ready to help our state move forward to defend love, families and marriage equality when folks go to vote in November.  

When I thought about what I'd write for our family's supportive post this week, I decided to ask our 2.5 year old about love.  His opinions are pretty straight forward and illustrate the openness of children.  

I asked Noah if he knew some people have two mommies or two daddies. He simply replied, "Yeah!" Then he moved on to kissing his little sister. 

Families are made of love, hard work, understanding, disagreements, laughter, tears, solidarity, individuality, and a group of people that come together as a unit to support each other through it all.  

Kids love seeing their parents love each other whether they have a mommy and a daddy or two mommies or two daddies or one parent or four parents.  Kids don't think loving families are a big deal.  Kids don't stop to call a loving LGBT family controversial.  Because what's controversial about a loving family? 

Thanks Noah for reminding me of that.