Settling in and some feelings.

We’ve been here a month (almost) and it feels like home. I knew it wouldn’t take long.

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Our house is tiny. I’m talking 1/2 the size of the one we had before, not exaggerating. 3 bedrooms and a big semi-finished basement. One tiny tv/family room. 2 bathrooms (there’s no such thing as a “master suite” in this house). Our house is perfect. Scratch that, if we had A/C it’d be perfect. We got rid of most of our things and it felt incredible. The kids have most of their books and their most favorite toys. We have bikes and outside toys. They share spaces and share things and sometimes it’s really loud. But mostly? Mostly we are content and we are so happy and we are together. And I joke a lot about being with my kids too much and yadda yadda but the truth is that I really love being with them and being awfully close to one another doesn’t bother me at all.

I don’t miss the LC Valley. Ouch, yeah? It’s true. I do miss my people there though. I miss Lala and Papa of course. I miss seeing Tara and Christian and the girls every day. I miss Hogan’s and the people there. I miss recording Lewis and Snark with Jackie and then our chats before and after (and our random get togethers at Reuben Cafe). I miss Inland 360 meetings and I miss Blues and Brews. We miss Dawn and all the Hansens horribly. I miss knowing that Whitney will get me in for a haircut or for any of my 6 monsters and then act like it’s no big deal (I know it is, you faker). I really miss prank calling Alicia at work and I miss so many people.

I have never experienced the cliquey drama, reminiscent of high school, like I have in my home town. Amongst adults. Adult women. Living there, I constantly felt misunderstood, judged, and a novelty; someone who is fun to have around when you need me but when I’m not providing you with exactly what you want, I’m out. There will be people who call bullshit on this, but it’s been my experience, something I’ve felt pretty strongly and that’s not something you can really call bullshit on; someone else’s feelings. While my anxiety definitely exacerbated the feelings, they were still there. It basically only happened with women my age, and it’s not like I have a list of people in mind and I’m checking their names off in my head —  I saw it happen to other people, too, in different groups, different circles, so I don’t think I’m that far off. I have lots of friends who are older than me, 10+ years who I felt so much more at peace around. And I do have a few really authentic, solid, wonderful friends my own age who not only understand (or try to understand) hard things I’m going through, but empathize with me and my family and offer continued support (and it’s reciprocated) regardless of whether or not I’m able to give them all my time, attention, or effort and for them I’m so forever grateful and I know we’ll be friends for a long, long time. SnapChat and Instagram are certainly good for that. Granted, I had lived my whole life (except for a short stint in Seattle for school) there, so I have little to compare it to other than experiences of people I know or have read who live somewhere else.

I feel like my kids are safer. There are more people who are willing to accept Luke for exactly who he is, not because they think they should because of who he is for fear of being labeled judgmental or those who just are judgmental and choose not to accept it at all, decline playdate invites, question parenting, question faith.

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There are places here that are just for him. Playdates and get togethers and an actual, physical space for people in the LGBTQ+ community to be because the support and resources are necessary. And more people here know and understand that. I think my other kids benefit from all this, too. We make a point of going out of our comfort zone to experience different things with different people and sometimes it’s really hard and it takes a lot of effort, but it’s worth it.

So that was going to be my transition into what I feel in Portland but it turned out to be longer and complainier (I made that word up) than I intended. While I’m sure there are cliques here (there are everywhere) and mom shaming and people I will never understand and who will never understand me, I can tell you with 100% truth that we’ve only been met here with kindness. Anyone can be nice. You can say you’re a nice person and that doesn’t mean much. Some of the worst people are nice at times. But being kind is different in my eyes. It means going out of your way to make other people feel happy and peaceful and at home. It means being generous any way that you can. It means introducing yourself with a smile and happy sentiments so new people feel like they already have friends in a giant, new city.

We love our change.

Also, I over analyze. Remember that. My brain needs to slow down. Chill out. Ruthie, you’re not a poet and you know it. Wait, did you read that? Maybe I am.

Where we live now, people do things, wear things, express themselves a certain way, etc., because they want to or they truly believe it. It doesn’t matter that what they’re saying or doing or wearing might be a-typical, out of the norm, not up to societal standards. It’s hard to live in a small community where this type of thing doesn’t happen. Where your home, yard, appearance seem to be a pretty big deal.

I don’t want to be a novelty. I don’t want Luke to be the token trans kid. I don’t want Jamie to grow up with few options. I don’t want Maria’s faith questioned because of her love for her family. Charlotte and Olive and Francesca have a chance to grow up and start school with kids from different backgrounds and cultures and languages. I don’t want Dan to work a job he’s not passionate about just for money.

We only get one shot at life and raising our kids, just one shot, and it took us too long to really believe that. The people I love know I love them and I know they love me. Those who are mean and rude and disrespectful for no reason just don’t hold space in our lives, and that’s new for us too. Life is hard, man. For everyone.

We have visited park after park, splashed in numerous splash pads, road tripped to the beach, hiked in the mountains, gone to the zoo (over and over again), played with new friends, visited with old ones, planted trees (someday we’ll be making so many fruit pies and having amazing olives and figs), eaten mochi, ridden our bikes, visited food carts, gone on walks…..

…it’s really great here. The kids love it. They’re content and happy. Of course, I’m playing up every aspect of our new community and how great it is, telling them about all the awesome stuff they’re going to get to do here so that might be helping. But I truly think they’ll be happier, more successful people because of our move. There’s the Q Center where we can walk to for resources and events for Luke. There are tons of activities here that Jamie will love and Maria can take drama classes, Charlotte and Ollie and France can play and play with the neighbor kids (although they’ll never replace B and Stella and Cleo, duh).

And Dan. Ah, Dan’s in his element. He’s close to great friends and doesn’t feel like he has to have a work personality and a free-time personality. He’s so much more himself and I’ve missed that. He’s more laid back here, he’s excited to explore and do more things. He can skate a different park or spot each week and he might even go snowboarding this weekend. Portland is good for Dan.

It’s good for us. We find ourselves looking at each other and saying, “Dude (yeah, we call each other dude) we actually live here. We’re actually doing what we’ve always wanted to do!” often and it feels really, really good.

And you guys back home, the ones I miss…you know who you are and I love you. I miss you and I was going to delete Snapchat in a very dramatic “someone was mean to me so now I’m gonna get rid of this” way and then remembered I’m an adult (only just a little too late because I’d already posted on IG about it. Even that was such a dramatic move. Ruthie, STOP! Dammit I hate it when that happens and I just write and post everything I’m feeling. No, just no.) and decided I can act like an adult. I’m not sure that being on Snapchat really means being an adult (ha…haha..hahahah) but I do love seeing snippets of my friends’ lives. And staying in touch and genuinely caring is an adult thing to do.

Oh and I really missed Chrissy Tiegen’s snaps. The girl can cook. And she’s freaking hilarious. And beautiful.

 

Know what else I’ve discovered? Having lots of Instagram accounts is really fun. And you can follow if you want, or not follow if you have no interest in them, I really don’t care at all. But here:

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@theiggynamedfrida — Oh, man, my Italian Greyhound, Frida Kahlo, is pretty badass.

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@hygge.in.pdx — lots of hashtags, so you might really be annoyed and hate it and that’s totally fine. But it shows our new adventures, places we visit, things we eat, etc.

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@dearlucian —- this is for Luke. I write him little notes about things happening in his life and later, I’ll put them in a little blurb book for him. This one is really personal, and is really just a place I can put my thoughts for him plus pictures together, but if you’re interested, you’re more than welcome.

@ruthiepizzle — just pizzle stuff. Lots of kids stuff, some selfies (is it really an IG account without some selfies?), some videos, just us.

 

All this? It’s because I really, really love to write and put pictures together with thoughts and not writing for Inland anymore has left a little hole in my creativity so I’m filling it with mindless Instagrams. Because I can. And Instagram is so much better than Facebook, so many fewer debates in comment threads and mean posts. Don’t you worry, I don’t think I’m doing the world a huge favor by adding more ridiculous IG accounts. If you know me, you’ll know what emoji I’d place here. But actually, world, a little more Frida and hygge never hurt anyone. So I guess you’re welcome. bahahhahaha.

 

**And can we remember that if you’re reading this and think I’m labeling everyone in the Valley except for my close friends as awful, stop. I’m not. I know there are SO MANY great, wonderful, generous, amazing people there. But sometimes a girl just has to complain and get shit off her chest, am I right?

 

 

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LWS –> PDX

If you follow me on social media (Instagram, mostly, as I rarely post on Facebook) you have probably heard that our family is moving. It’s all true, I don’t lie, we are leaving the LC Valley for something a little bigger, more accepting, more willing to understand and embrace.

 

First, if you are an LC Valley resident and this offends you, I’m sorry. This isn’t personal and isn’t meant to hurt anyone. It’s just kind of a fact. Look at the demographic here. White, republican, Christian seems to be the majority. That’s not wrong, but what tends to happen is that this particular demographic, as a whole, tends to have a hard time accepting and embracing those who don’t fit the mold. There are exceptions to this for sure (NOT EVERY WHITE, CHRISTIAN REPUBLICAN IS THIS WAY…did you hear me? So you can’t say I said “they’re all like that”), but it’s hard to argue that I’m wrong. I’ve had to talk to my kids more times than I should that the people yelling on the corner of the blue bridge are racist. That the bumper sticker in front of us is offensive. That the tee shirt being worn at the grocery store is not appropriate.

 

In Portland, I wore my “No Human Being is Illegal” tee shirt and in 48 hours do you know how many people mentioned it? Seven. Seven people said they liked my shirt and one man in his early 30s told me it was “just beautiful.” Not one person out and about has commented on it positively here.

 

Anyway, my heart swelled with love after Luke came out publicly as being transgender. I had people ‘like’ my post, more than any other post. I had people text and call telling me how brave we were, how amazing we were, how wonderful Luke was. But as time went on, that support remained, but the judgement also came creeping in, slowly. First, a teacher at the school, of the other 2nd grade class, refused to hand out invitations to his party unless they were in white envelopes and even at that, posted something on her class’ Facebook page “warning” parents about what they were going to see. She freaked out when I wanted to talk to the kids and explain that Luke is still the same friend even though he is changing his name. I assured her that I’d never go into details about what Transgender means and nothing would be talked about as far as sexuality (dude, these are 2nd graders for God’s sake). But still, no. A children’s book, “I Am Jazz” wasn’t allowed to be read because it said “transgender.” The concern was the teacher’s Facebook page being blown up by parents who were unhappy, not that the children would learn something.

 

Little girls in the other class, ones who I thought were so wonderful and sweet, ones who were friends with Luke last year (good friends!), started reminding Luke weekly (if not daily) that he’ll never be a boy, he’ll always be a girl and that they will call him Alice.

 

Some parents told me that it was okay for them to be school friends, but they couldn’t get together outside of school. I pushed, because that’s what Ruthie does when she’s hurt and offended, and asked if it had anything to do with him being transgender. She won’t text me back.

 

Comments from friends told to other friends behind my back, questioning why we would “let” our child do this. Not having another family here with a young transgender child to connect with. The lack of resources here for both Luke and myself – no support group, no counselors well trained in this area, nothing.

 

If we stayed here, Luke would grow up being the token trans kid in the valley. He’d be the one everyone knew (I grew up here, my parents grew up here, we know many people in the valley) and the one thing they’d say about him before all else is: he’s transgender. He’d likely have a hard (if not impossible time) dating when he is old enough. School dances would be rough. Traveling for medical appointments would suck. Living in a very small community would Just. Plain. Suck. This is just the way it is with small towns — there aren’t enough resources to pull from, not enough experiences to relate to if you’re a bit different.

 

We’ve been so incredibly lucky to be able to support our large family. We don’t take that for granted and it’s something we are very grateful for. But here’s something money can’t buy: it can’t buy the feeling of acceptance or security. Money can’t keep your child from crying after school or when he hears he’s been denied yet another play date with one of his best friends. Money doesn’t make it so that Maria has to defend her younger sibling all the time to people (children!) who feel comfortable telling her how weird our situation is, using God to try and make her feel less-than. Maria needs to worry about herself, be a kid for the small amount of kid-time she has left. She loves her siblings and she would do and say anything to make them feel safe and happy, but that’s something she shouldn’t have to always be doing. Money doesn’t buy my friends back who have quietly and slowly pulled away.

 

Change doesn’t magically happen.

 

I’m tired. I’m tired of creating this bubble for my kids where I tell them they can be anything they want, they are loved regardless of what they look like, how they feel, how they act and who they are. And once they leave that bubble, they’re disappointed. They’re shocked. I teach my children about diversity not through living it in our everyday community. Not by having it be just part of life. No, here I have to seek out books and movies and we have to travel to other places. I have to have conversations with them about what it means to be gay and how everyone should be able to love anyone they choose. I have worked my ass off to ensure that when we see someone anywhere who looks different, whether it’s because of the color of their skin, what they are wearing, how they dress, or a visible disability, my kids don’t flinch. They can ask questions, and I’m okay with that, but they aren’t surprised or appalled or taken aback because that’s just not how it is in our small community. I’m tired of people telling me they support us but where are they, really, when someone needs to be called out for making an awful joke or when they’re aware of bullies but do nothing to stop them?

 

Let me say that I know it’s hard. And it’s okay for this community to be here, to function as it is, to continue to be exactly what is is. But it’s also okay for me to know that for our family, for my children, myself, it’s not okay for us to stay here.

 

It’s our jobs as parents to protect our children. To love them and make sure they are happy and healthy and if that’s not happening, it’s our job to make a change. Even if that change comes with stress and uncertainty and leaving our very best people and sometimes tears. It’s our job, our responsibility to do what’s right for us.

 

For us, we want every single one of our children to not only survive, but to thrive. Would we be ‘just fine’ staying here? Yeah, for sure. But I don’t wanna be ‘just fine,’ especially when there are other options. I want Ollie to be loved for being exactly who she is and I want Luke to be loved for being exactly who he is. I want to be somewhere, someplace bigger with more people who are different, so that James has a network of people who share his interests, who love him for being exactly who he is. I want Charlotte’s buzzed hair to not cause people’s jaws to drop and I want Maria to experience lots and lots. Francesca, she’s one who will do whatever the hell she wants, anytime she wants, so I’m not worried about her. I want to see signs in yards all over the place that say:

 

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So we are making a change. Because we can, because it’s our choice, because it’s what we feel and know is the best for our entire family. And you might have the same politics and feelings as I do but stay in the Valley and that’s okay. I don’t think you’re wrong for doing it, I don’t think you’re in denial, I don’t think you just don’t care. I think we all do our very best and we all do what is best for our family – and sometimes change isn’t best for every family. You might have completely opposite politics as I do and take all of this as an insult, but please don’t. This is a very personal choice for us.

 

And if you live in the valley and think I’m wrong and are are hurt by how I feel, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to make you feel bad, make you feel like I dislike you (we can have different beliefs and I can still really, really love you. I promise.) or make you feel like I’m bashing your beliefs and lifestyles. I’m not. I only know what we’ve experienced and from that, what we need. We love LOTS and lots of people in this community. LOTS. And we will continue to love them and respect them and I hope we will stay in touch and I hope that when we come back to visit, we’ll see all our friends.

 

And what has happened at school? I know that will happen anywhere. But I also know that where we are headed will have more people who can help, who can support and who will understand what we’re going through. I know there will always be people who don’t like how we choose to raise our children and I don’t think we’re just running away from it all and it will be magic. But I know it will be easier.

 

And let me be very clear: my friends are amazing. It’s not as if we have no one here who supports us and sticks up for us and who would do anything for our family. We do, we have many, some that have different beliefs than us and some who have the same. And the kids’ school has gone ABOVE AND BEYOND in making it a safe place for Luke and a place where Jamie can thrive. Mr. Nicholas is incredible and I’m sure received some backlash from teachers and parents for his continued support of Luke, but he kept it up, he never let us down and he helped more than he’ll ever know in making Luke feel comfortable transitioning. The exact same goes for his teacher, Mrs. Cook and the school psychologist, Mrs. Crockett. And 90% of the staff out there. Thank you, thank you – I’ll never be able to say that enough.

 

So there it is. We’re outta here. Some of you will cheer, I’m sure, but for those of you who like us, come visit. Follow us on Instagram (@ruthiepizzle) and Snapchat (@ruthieprasil). Send us good vibes and we’ll do the same for you. ❤

IIX (does that mean 8?)

When our 3rd was born, that baby was as beautiful as the two that came before.

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I think Jamie holds the record for most hair but this one came awfully close to beating him.

Sometimes I think about the first several years, when we called that baby Alice and how I insisted on dresses and not cutting that long and beautiful hair and finding hair bows that matched and insisting on posed pictures and dress up. And when I think of that, I remember how sweet that Alice was. How quiet and shy, but how nice and sweet and happy she was. How she just did what we asked, didn’t fuss too much (certainly not enough for me to consider it a battle not worth fighting), and went along with life.

And then I remember the quiet times, around four or five years old, when that Alice told us she really wanted to be a boy. And when that child, at six years old, put their foot down on dresses and skirts and talked me into a shorter haircut.

And most recently at seven, the courage it took to to tell us “I don’t want to be a boy, I am one,” and everything that has happened since. Now that child is Lucian Maureen and that sweet voice is still there. I never thought I’d be celebrating my third child’s 8th birthday with “he” and “him” and “his” but my heart is bursting with how happy I am that we are.

Lucian is 8 and what an incredible 8-year-old he is.

  • happy
  • funny
  • shy
  • silly
  • brave

Lucian wants to grow up and get married and have babies some day and it’s obvious that he’ll be the best daddy because he’s so great with Franci and when he spots a baby, he just melts. He skates up a storm and he’s not so bad on the snow, either. He has lots of friends and is the best friend in the world. Sometimes he gets upset pretty easily and has a hard time, but he always is able to calm down and talk about it, and that’s not easy. He loves cake and he loves lavender soda and his favorite thing is one-on-one time with mom and dad.

Without Lucian, I’m not sure who we would be. But I’m guessing our family wouldn’t be quite as great.

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Happy 8th birthday to our beautiful boy!

VI

Today I have a six year old. Charlotte Clayton is six.

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Charlotte is each and every one of the following at any given time of day:

  • fierce
  • quiet
  • patient
  • kind
  • sassy
  • loud
  • snuggly
  • chill
  • creative
  • cheerful
  • wiggly

Charlotte is so many things at so many different times of the day or week and sometimes lots of things at once. She is smart and she is SO. FREAKING. HILARIOUS. If you look too deep in her eyes, she’ll keep you there, so be careful. She’s striking, the epitome of fashion and her androgynous style and the way she pulls it off is pretty rad.

She’s our number four, our loudest girl, the most daring and the most confident. She is a really good friend and she’s such a sweet soul – she’s empathetic towards others’ situations and sometimes she catches me by surprise with the way she understands some really hard things.

She’s named after one of our favorite people and his spirit shows through her all the time. She’s fun and she’s full of stories and she wants to be friends with everyone.

Without Charlotte, our lives would be quieter and more boring. We’d laugh a little less and we’d probably use 1/2 as many Bandaids.

Happiest, happiest of days to our sweet, fun, and sassy Charlotte Clayton.

A good listen for teachers, parents, and people.

This is a podcast from NPR that consists of a panel of people (a transgender student, a law college professor, a school principal, and a senior counsel for a conservative legal organization) who discuss the ‘bathroom issue’ as it pertains to and affects people (transgender or not). If you think this is a ridiculous thing to talk about, a stupid thing to discuss, you should listen to this podcast.

 

http://the1a.org/shows/2017-02-27/beyond-bathrooms-the-battle-over-transgender-rights

Easter 2017

For the past couple years, we’ve avoided the ping pong-ing of going from house to house to egg hunt to egg hunt because it’s just too much. Instead, we host Easter brunch at our house after we’ve done our own family thing.

Our own family thing consists of Easter baskets and an inside egg hunt where some eggs are more easily found than others.

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We don’t go crazy on baskets. They’re even more simplified than Christmas stockings. Lots of candy, a couple toys, a book, that kind of thing. Each of the little girls got a doll. I think we nailed it as far as the quality vs. quantity.

After some time with the baskets, they hunt. And then they celebrate. (James chose not to participate this year)

 

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(I wanna know what goes on in that smart little brain of his)

And then, after all that fun just by ourselves, we invite more awesome people to come over to eat like crazy and have even more fun!

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Maria serenaded us with some violin, too.

We had a little quiet time and then decided to go to the skatepark.

Okay, so why is it that parents think it’s okay to just drop their little kids off at the skatepark with their new scooters and rip sticks and leave them there, where they don’t take turns, they cut people off, and make it a mess for scooter-ers and skaters who actually wanna ride and know what they’re doing. It drives me nuts. And when they do get in the way and cause a collision, and the parent is there, the parent does nothing. Like…literally nothing. So we had to deal with it. Which meant doing nothing, because when you try to tell 9-year-olds that they should take turns so they don’t get hurt, they look at you like you’re a complete idiot. So Luke kept getting SUPER frustrated and Jamie kept pretending to throw up (it’s a tactic he’s been using to get us to leave somewhere in a hurry…he wasn’t actually throwing up, more like very dramatically coughing and spitting) and Franci wouldn’t quit screaming (she was coloring in the car, literally feet from the park with all doors open, we could hear her and talk to her, but she wasn’t happy with it) so we bagged it and headed home for some quiet time and a bike ride.

I’m beyond tired and I don’t think I’m ready for the work week. But it’s weird how it comes whether you are ready or not, huh?

Happy Easter!

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Spring break and getting out of town

The kids are on Spring Break so the first part of it was spent out of town. Naturally.

Yep, we headed to Seattle and spent the long weekend with my brother and Lily and doing fun tourist-y things like MoPOP and the aquarium and Pike’s Place.

Oh, and hotel swims. We had lots of hotel swims.

No Prasil trip is complete without a sick child or two, right? So we had that, too. But our kids are troopers extreme and they powered through.

We went to a transgender support group for children ages 3-9 and it was pretty incredible. Working with Willow Center, I know how important it is for children to not feel like they are going through something difficult alone. That they aren’t the only “weird” one, that there are all types of people. And when you’re with a bunch of people who are navigating something similar to what you are, you don’t feel so alone, so judged, and so lonely. We left the support group and Luke was smiling so much he was almost laughing. I said, “So did you meet people like you? Who people thought was a girl when they were born but is actually a boy?” He looked up at me and laughed and said, “I don’t even know! I couldn’t tell!” And I might have teared up.

But the ice in my heart quickly froze all emotion and things were normal. Phew.

We had lots of delicious meals, both with kids and without. We went to Pie Bar which was so delicious and I want 10 more chicken pot pies and 5 more berry pies stat. We went to Top Pot donuts and El Borracha and we watched the Zags lose and played at parks and walked all over and it was really, really fun.

But we were exhausted by the end of it. So now we’re just home, hanging out, enjoying no-school days. Working from home and watching so much Netflix. The weather is beautiful and the kids have been outside so much. We have a busy month with Green Apple Project fundraisers and events and work and doctor’s appointments and school and………but you are all familiar with busy lives!

Happy Spring.