Category Archives: Parenting

Double 3s

My favorite person in the entire world is 33 today.

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33 Facts About Danny:

  1. He can quote Dumb and Dumber from the first word spoken to the last.
  2. His eyelashes are approximately 18” long.
  3. He knows how to swaddle a baby, very well.
  4. Even though every other cousin/sibling got to drive a sports car in high school, he got to drive a tiny, old (like…really old) bright blue Pepsi truck and was cool with it.
  5. My dad once called Pepsi to narc on that blue Pepsi truck for spinning circles in the ice of his parking lot.
  6. His love for Pendleton (the wool brand) runs deep.
  7. He’s super ticklish.
  8. He’s an amazing cook.
  9. He’s a foodie. He’ll try anything (seriously, think of the grossest thing, he’d probably eat it).
  10. He can name at least 10 My Little Pony characters AND name their cutie mark.
  11. He knows what a cutie mark is.
  12. He’s a great musician but will always tell you he sucks.
  13. He’s a gamer. 1st person shooter games are his favorite and you should see him sit with his headset, talking to his teammates who are probably 14 year old boys.
  14. He’s the best at pretending to be asleep.
  15. He loves and appreciates art of all types.
  16. He can almost curl his mustache.
  17. He is the reason there’s an amazing skatepark in Lewiston, Idaho. Hours and hours and hours AND HOURS were spent by him to get that put in. He’s created a place for the community, for everyone to use and was the last to ask for praise and thanks and compliments.
  18. He’s served on many boards of directors.
  19. He skateboards almost every day.Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 2.12.55 AM
  20. He is up for any adventure, even if it requires a lot of work and effort for a short amount of time (i.e.: camping for one night with six kids)
  21. He should be a science or history teacher: he knows so much about that stuff (and is interested in it) and is amazing with kids.
  22. He wanted to go to culinary school after high school
  23. He makes the best cocktails.
  24. He’s insanely generous and would do anything anyone asked him if he thought it would help him.
  25. He can hang with older businessmen or teenagers at the skatepark and he can do both with ease. Everyone loves him.
  26. We were late to a dance once because he had to flat iron his hair.Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 2.13.32 AM
  27. He’s a lover, not a fighter. I don’t think you could get in a fight with Danny if you tried.
  28. He loves chichorrones.
  29. He listens to every genre of music and can find something he likes in them all.
  30. He’s watched LOTR more times than I want to even try and count.
  31. He has the kindest soul of anyone you will meet and if you know Dan, you’re lucky.
  32. He’s always crazy cool, calm and collected.
  33. He can install a carseat in 10 seconds flat.

 

In short, Danny is amazing. He’s the best. If you know him, you know how kind and genuine and patient and generous he is. If you’re his friend, he doesn’t just love you, he loves your family, too, and will do anything for you. He’s the best dad and no one can make the kids laugh as hard as he can. He’s as authentic as they come. He cares about his family and would do anything to make sure we are happy and healthy. Some people base success and status on how much money you have or make, but Dan sees you as successful if you aren’t an asshole, you aren’t greedy, and you take care of your people, whoever your people may be, however they need to be taken care of.  Dan will get shit done – ask anyone who has asked a favor of him and they can confirm.

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Having severe anxieties and OCD can make me a frustrating person to live with. I need constant reassurance (“Dan, are you sure my headache isn’t a brain tumor?” “Dan, are you sure what I said was okay?” “Dan, are you sure x, y, or z doesn’t think I’m a bitch?” “Dan, are you sure……”) and sometimes I panic. Sometimes I can’t stop worrying about something and I’ll talk about it non-stop. Dan’s my constant. He’s the one thing I know will never change, will always be. He doesn’t get annoyed by me (at least he doesn’t show it) and he’s willing to help me talk things out if that’s what I need. I knew 16 years ago that he was my person and I’ve never once questioned or doubted that.


Being a parent of a child with special needs isn’t easy. It isn’t fun. It’s exhausting and frustrating and sometimes you feel like you are learning a new language as your child grows and changes and no matter how hard you try, you’ll never be fluent. But you still try. You change your life to accommodate your child’s and you find an extra voice inside you to to speak up for them when they need it. Dan is all of this.

 

Our family isn’t typical and I honestly can’t think of a Dad, husband, or, person even, who is better suited for it, who would be able to handle the really stressful, frustrating and hard times like Dan does and be as happy and fun and calm and hilarious and awesome no matter what.

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Dan, my friends, is a gem.

Happy Birthday, Danny, you’re the best of the best. ❤

 

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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.

Name change parties and a happy boy.

Kids are funny, yeah? Unless you teach them something isn’t quite right, they roll with it. Unless you teach them that one is better than another, they think everyone is equal. Unless you teach them that a little girl who never felt like a girl at all, but more like a boy who is now living his true self is sick and wrong, they’ll think it’s the most logical thing to do. Be who you are, don’t worry about what others think.

I asked Luke what he would say to someone who didn’t support him, who thought it wasn’t right for someone with girl parts to really be a boy and live like a boy. He said, “I would tell them that it’s okay to be who you are and you should just accept people for who they are.”

Kids get it.

So when I went to Luke’s school and spoke to the principal, the school psychologist, and his classroom teacher, we all pretty much agreed that this would be a smooth transition, that children would be accepting. Because that’s how things should be. Treat others how you would like to be treated. Call me crazy, but I think maybe that even includes transgender children and adults. So imagine my surprise when one of the teachers refused to be supportive (not Luke’s classroom teacher and not the school psychologist or principal…they were and are so amazing. My kids are so lucky to be at that school). She refused to take this as an opportunity to teach her students that Alice isn’t transforming into another person completely, she’s just changing her name to Luke and would like to live as a boy…that same friend is still there, just with shorter hair and a different spelling of the name. Imagine my surprise when she not only put his name change party invites into a sealed white envelope for her class, but also posted about it on Facebook, telling parents that the kids have no idea what’s in the envelope and she wanted them to see it before making a decision. The invite literally just said, “name change party.” I didn’t use words like transgender or queer or go into detail about our situation.  There wasn’t even a rainbow on the invite for God’s sake. It was a simple invitation to all of Luke’s friends to come and celebrate this huge change.

I shouldn’t have been too surprised. Some adults will make a big deal out of things no matter what. Even when it makes it harder for children, harder for families, adults still feel like they  need to insert themselves into every situation and try and take charge. This isn’t something that anyone can really take charge of. It’s not something that can change. This is just the way it is, and if you know Luke, you know it’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.

This weekend was Luke’s name change party and how lucky are we that so many people came?

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All these people were here for Luke. Parents I had never met, close friends, kids from the other class, siblings…all of these friends were here to tell Luke that he’s great. That this change is one that will be met with love and support more often than judgment and hate. These are the people who will be his allies, his helpers, the people he can go to when things get hard.

Oh, these friends of ours (and so many that weren’t able to come and aren’t pictured, too!)

I think I took more Polaroid photos than I did normal ones, but this is a pretty good representation. Luke’s face never quit smiling.

We had food and goodies and such a great time.

Gifts. People brought Luke gifts.

What’s one way that someone can show you they love you? By traveling hours and hours for an event that they know is almost as important as a birth to you. (It was. That might sound crazy but this was so important.)

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These guys know life isn’t easy and they know it’s going to be even harder for Luke. They know that the one teacher who isn’t supportive is just a tiny taste of what we’ll be met with for years and years. They know that one thing that a child can never get enough of is love. My kids have no doubt about who they can turn to when they need it.

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These are my people. And all the ones on the other side of the camera. And all the ones to the side and behind us. All the people who see Luke for who he is, what his heart shows, how he treats others, how he loves and how we love him. These are our people, whether they were at the party or not, those who show us love and respect and compassion – those are our people.

 

There’s a song in Hamilton (I know, I know) and the lyrics make me tear up every time.

 

“…you will come of age with our young nation.

We’ll bleed and fight for you.

We’ll make it right for you.

If we lay a strong enough foundation,

We’ll pass it on to you,

We’ll give the world to you

And you’ll blow us all away

Someday, someday.”

Every time I sing this song, I think of what I’m doing for my kids. How hard I’m working, how hard my family is working, how hard my friends are working. It’s not always easy to speak out when you know something is wrong. It’s not always easy to be who you truly are, especially when so many people so loudly disagree. It’s heartbreaking to see someone hate your child when they don’t even know them.

But if we lay a strong enough foundation, we’ll give the world to our children. And they’ll blow us all away. That, I know, and that’s why I’m willing to fight and make it right.

The Danish Way

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I’m particular. Shocking, I know.

I know exactly the type of people I want my children to be (not specifically, like their professions, looks, sexuality, that kind of thing — but generally). I want them to be loving, kind, patient, accepting, helpful. I want my children to be freaking happy.

In my constant quest for my children’s happiness I come across lots and lots of parenting books. This isn’t fair for me to say and there’s no reason really that I should think this, but any American-based parenting guide or book is something I walk right past. Why? I feel like America, as a culture, doesn’t do the very best in raising happy, empathetic, well-adjusted kids. Don’t confuse this with me saying I don’t know any Americans who are great parents. That’s not true at all. I know lots and lots of really great American parents. But like I said, I’m particular. We all look for things that tailor to our own belief system and when it comes to parenting books, I tend to lean towards un-American. I did it, I said it.

Before reading this book (“The Danish Way of Parenting”) my favorite was “Bringing up Bebe” by Pamela Druckerman. She’s funny and real and I loved how she gave real-life experiences with French mothers to back up what she was saying. I loved it. But then I saw this book at Book People in Moscow and didn’t even read the back cover before putting it on the checkout desk. I read it in one sitting and it’s now my favorite.

The Danes are happy and there must be a reason why. It’s not just a coincidence that all the happiest people were born there, am I right? I am, I’ll answer that for you. I’m right. The Danes know how to parent and now that I’m privy to some of their secrets  parenting ways, I feel like a dumbass. It’s all so obvious. It’s so common sense and easy.

Don’t resort to automatically telling your children they are the best and smartest.

Teach empathy.

Look on the bright side of things.

Help your child find their own solutions to their own problems, don’t do it for them.

Let kids play – imaginative, fun, creative, non-electronic play.

These are all things I know but have a hard time executing. I don’t spank, but I do sometimes yell. Not good. I turn the TV on when I just want peace and quiet. I sometimes dwell on things I’m bad at, not the things I’m great at. I force my kids to share their toys at the first hint of another child’s jealousy instead of letting them figure it out for themselves and coming up with a solution.

You guys, buy this book. Or borrow it from me. Or check it out from the library. Just get your hands on a copy and read it.