Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Frosted Gift, Part II

Just a quick follow up from our previous post of cookie decorating to show you the final goods. We had a blast! Everyone had their own creative way of approaching their decorating, but the important thing is that we all did it together. 

Our end result?  Well, judge for yourself. We felt we had beautifully decorated Christmas tree cookies that each held their own unique flare. And as I mentioned, we had a great time doing it together as you will see in the family snapshot below:

From our family to yours, we hope you had a very merry Christmas and a happy holiday!

Top:  Brad B, Brad L, Brannon, Tommy. Bottom:  Great G'ma Lou, Nana Debra, Kyler

We'd love to know if you all did any family stuff this Christmas. We'd love different ideas to try out next year! Let us know.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Frosted Gift

I’m really looking forward to this evening. Tonight the family is getting together and decorating some tree-shaped sugar cookies we made last night. We had planned to decorate them last night, but I bought the supplies late and we had to wait and let the butter get to room temperature (very important) before we started. By the time the cookies were done baking, it was pushing 11pm and it was time for bed. So, we all agreed to convene again the next night and do the decorating.

I have to admit, it felt good to be doing something in the kitchen. I do enjoy cooking/baking, and I usually end up helping my mother with a lot of her Christmas baking when I come home for the holidays. Since I’m not going home this year, there’s been this longing to be in the kitchen doing something (anything really) since we arrived here in Alabama. Brad’s mom had pretty much wrapped up her Christmas baking already so there wasn’t really anything for me to do. So, while we were at Wal-mart the other day picking up baby wipes, I saw this Christmas tree cookie cutter and decorating accessories and got an idea … we’d have a cookie decorating party as a family!

Brad seemed to take to the idea too, so we picked up icing, frosting, and just about every kind of sprinkle you can imagine … you know the gays go big! So, Brad's mom and I mixed up the dough and cut and baked eighteen cookies. It felt good to be doing something along side of her in her own kitchen. We have decided to mix up green frosting and leave some white frosting so people can either have a green tree, an all white tree, or try the challenging snow-tipped green tree … using both the green and white frosting (that's what I'm doing!).

As much as I’m looking forward to it, I think the most important thing for me is it appears Brad’s family is looking forward to it as well. That just warms my heart. In the end, it doesn’t matter if the cookies turn out or if they are even pretty. What matters is that we will be doing something together as a family where each person will share a part of themselves … even if it is as simple as creativity with frosting.

They’ve all made me feel so welcome, but this is their Christmas and their traditions that I am now being immersed in. Who knows if this cookie decorating will go beyond this year … I never meant for it to become a tradition. But for now, I beam with happiness that they’ve already given me a gift this Christmas … as small as it may seem. They have given me the gift of experiencing something new this Christmas as a family, and I am a part of that new experience.

[As seen on Goodkin]

Monday, December 20, 2010

Diaper on the Move

"It was a total disaster! We are never driving home for Christmas again."  That's the exact opposite of what we encountered on our first road trip as a family. From our previous post, you know that we were driving down to Alabama to spend the Christmas holiday with Brad's family. Now granted, we didn't start off well as we kind of missed the mark on the targeted departure time we had planned ... okay, actually, we blew right through it. We had planned to leave at 9am for our trip, but we both waited to pack ourselves and the dogs until the morning and that put us a little behind.

Needless to say, we didn't end up leaving our place until 11am ... this was right before we realized we needed to head to the pet store to pick up dog food for our dogs. We need this special kind of food otherwise our dogs have a tendency to have "the rhea," and we didn't want that as we headed to Nana's house. So, we made a swing by Living Ruff on our way out to do a drive-by pick up (I love city life). Honestly, it's the best thing! You can call in your order, pay with your credit card, and then they will run your dog food (or whatever) out to the curb as you drive by. The cars behind you on Georgia Ave can get a little fussy when you suddenly stop in the middle of the road, but we're there for about 15 seconds tops as someone runs out your order. Then off we go!

So as we headed out on the capital beltway, we realized we needed to pick up some drinks and snacks for the road ... plus we desperately needed Starbucks. We decided to wait until we got into Virginia until we would find a place to stop ... big mistake. We have no idea where we are going in Virginia, so we used the GPS to find a grocery store off of highway 66. Well, the damn thing took us a few miles off the highway into what seemed like the depths of suburban Virginia. Once we found the place, we made three stops:  1) the Giant grocery story, 2) Starbucks, and 3) Subway to pick up 2 sandwiches for later. Rush! Rush! Rush! By that time we got back into the car and plugged the GPS for directions back to 66, the clock read 12:30.  So much for getting an early start. I'll have to admit, at that point I was being a little sour-puss Sally because we were leaving so late. I just knew we had a long day ahead of us and I didn't want to be pulling into the hotel in Knoxville so late. However, there's nothing like a good ol' hazelnut skim latte from Starbucks can't fix ... even a sour attitude.

With Glee blaring in the speaker, a fresh attitude, and clear roads, we were finally on our way. Kyler was asleep by the time we got back on the highway and slept like a champ 95% of the way. In fact, he was sleeping and feeding so well when we made stops that we decided to not stop for the night in Knoxville and drive straight through to Alabama. We were both dreading the idea of needing to unpack our car at the hotel and then repacking it again the next morning. So we called Nana and asked if it'd be okay if we came tonight .... arriving around 11pm. Of course she said that would be fine with her (even though it would be about 3 hours past her bedtime). So onward we went!

Kyler was being a prince .... the dogs, well, that's another story. While we're on the road they are fine. If we happen to stop and one of us gets out of the car (let's say for gas) they tend to freak out. It's a known fact that, although very sweet, our dogs are crazy. For the journey, they were both seated in the back seat right next to Kyler's car seat, which was placed in the middle. The whining would start and then they would try and climb on the back seat, or worse yet, the Kyler's car seat. They are still learning about the no-doggie-zone around Kyler and his car seat.  At one point, I opened the back door on the passenger side (Brad was inside the gas station), and both dogs were standing right on Kyler in the car seat. My head might have exploded right at that moment. I had no idea if they had a paw right in his face or in his gut or God knows what. With a quick push, I discovered they were barely standing on the inside of the car seat ... Kyler unharmed. Whew!

Virginia is long state ... too long. It seemed like we drove in Virginia the entire time. Finally, we stopped at one rest stop in the southern part of Virginia to pee, feed Kyler and let the dogs pee/poo. Brad sat in the passenger seat to feed Kyler while I walked the dogs. Upon my return, I opened the door to let the dogs in and went to put my gloves on top of the car ... and then I saw it. I couldn't believe it. I started howling. Brad was asking me what happened and the dogs were both staring at me and saying, "Uh, dude, let us in the car."  There it was ... wedged into the back part of the luggage rack on the top of our vehicle ... Kyler's last dirty diaper. Apparently when I was changing him at the first rest stop I had put the dirty diaper on top of the car to get it out of the way and then take it to the trash. I am positive I either got distracted by our crazy dogs, or I just plum forgot about it. I'm betting on the dogs.  So we had been traveling for the last 3.5 hours with a dirty diaper on top of our car ... leading the way. We must have looked like idiots on the road. Maybe that's why it seemed like cars weren't staying behind us. Do you blame 'em? I wouldn't want to take the chance of a dirty diaper to the windshield. SPLAT!

At about two hours outside of our destination, we finally figured out that our GPS does take into account the time zone change. So since we were moving from East Coast time to Central time, we actually had an additional hour of travel time. Ugh! three more hours ... could we make it? Will Kyler keep sleeping? Would my eyes stay open? Well, it was a 'yes' to the first one, another 'yes' to the second one, and a 'no' to third. At this point my eyes were going out of focus, so we switched drivers and Brad took over the driving the rest of the way (thanks, honey!). The next three hours passed rather quickly and without any issues. We made another call to Nana to tell her we'd actually be arriving around midnight. Again, it was obviously okay, and she informed us that they were having a pajama party waiting for us, consisting of Nana, Brad's grandmother, Brad's brother, and his brother's partner. They were all waiting for us. It's such a heart warming feeling to know you have loved-ones eagerly anticipating your arrival, especially when they are staying up way past their bedtime ... true love!

As we pulled in at 12:15am (after roughly 14 hours on the road), the feeling was of pure elation and celebration for we were welcomed at the door by the entire family and the flood of attention and "oooohs & aaaahs" for Kyler had started ... as it should be.  This was a true home coming. This is what family is all about. This is going to be a great Christmas.

We'd love to know if you've ever done a road trip for the holidays? What was the craziest thing that's happened to you on your journey...good or bad? Would you do it again?

Stay tuned ... more to come about our time here down south with Brad's family.

[as seen on Goodkin]

Sunday, December 19, 2010

First Christmas Trip Prep

It’s the night before our big journey down to Alabama for a southern Christmas and I’m a nervous wreck. I think my nerves are from ensuring I don’t forget anything, but also that everything I do remember can all fit into our vehicle. With two adults, two dogs, and an eleven week old baby (Kyler) hopped up in one car for a 14+ hour journey … it comes with a lot of stuff. Plus, we need to be mindful that we are bringing Nana back with us for a few weeks. Do you see why I’m a little stressed? *deep breath*

Tomorrow we embark on the first and longest leg of our journey to northern Alabama in what we are anticipating will be about a 10 hour drive. We plan to stop in Knoxville and stay in a hotel just to break up the drive, and then we are scheduled to arrive at Nana’s house mid-Sunday morning. The anticipation for our arrival is very high … and I can probably say the emotions surrounding our trip are at the same level.

This will be dubbed our “First Christmas.” It’s first for a lot of reasons: Our First Christmas together as a couple, our First Christmas together as a family, Brad’s First Christmas without his father, Kyler’s First Christmas ever, and my First Christmas not spent with my family in 39 years. So many emotions surrounding these “firsts” … some emotions that warm the cockles of our hearts, and others that rip at our souls.

Brad and I are very excited to finally spend our first Christmas together after five years of being a couple. Brad’s homestead is in Alabama and mine is in Washington State. It’s just been easier for us to go our separate ways for the holidays and then convene back at our place after the holiday to celebrate together. Even though we haven’t spent Christmas together, we’ve always tried to make our celebration special. Now, with the arrival of our son and the start of our little family, it is time for a change and spend it together as a family unit.

We chose to spend our first Christmas with Brad’s family for two primary reasons. 1) Brad’s family needs all the support and joy they can get this year as they still struggle with the passing of Brad’s dad just 12 days after Kyler was born, and 2) it wasn’t really an option to head to Washington State with my family because several members of my family are still uncomfortable that we are a same-sex-couple family. There’s so much joy and so much to celebrate that I just couldn’t fathom being somewhere where we felt uncomfortable……or others felt uncomfortable around us.

I guess to find the silver lining in it all, it did make our decision easier. I mean, if there wasn’t this issue with my family and they truly wanted us to join them for Christmas, how would we then choose where to spend our first Christmas? All in all, I will miss my family over the holidays…our traditions, our church, and the gift-frenzy on Christmas morning with all my nieces and nephews (I have 16 of them). However, I need to remember that this is now a kick start for creating our own family traditions that we can carry forward. I’m curious to find out what our Christmas celebration will look like ten years from now. Actually, I can’t think about that right now, thinking that far ahead almost makes me vomit. I’ll live in “the now” for the time being and get through this Christmas first……our first Christmas.

We’d love to know how you decided where to spend your first Christmas as a couple or family? Was it an easy decision, or was it something that did (or could have caused) some conflict? When you first brought your spouse or partner home for Christmas, was there any discomfort and how did you handle it? We’d love to hear your feedback.

Stay tuned…there will be more to come about our road trip down to Alabama in our packed car...packed full of love.

[as seen on Goodkin]

Thursday, December 16, 2010

We Have a Poser on Our Hands

So, every year, one of our favorite things to do is take our Christmas photo that either goes on our Christmas card or is included in our Christmas letter. What once started out as a candid shot taken by us has now turned into a full-on photo shoot....adjusting lights, moving furniture, spraying hairspray, and coordinating outfits. (Yah, I know, let the comments fly)  Here are the shots from the first three years...



2010's Christmas photo promised to be a special one in our hearts for the rest of our lives. It was going to be our first Christmas photo as a family. But good grief, how were we going to pull this one off?  Not only did we need to reign in both of our crazy dogs, but we now also needed to incorporate Kyler....a 9 week old. Needless to say, it really pushed our limits of organization and patience. For example, 24/7 our two dogs want us to be on the floor and them to be in our laps. However, at the moment we both get on the floor to have them sit in our laps...they'll have nothing of it.  It's like they knew. There goes using the Staples "That was easy" button. Little cusses!

Kyler was actually pretty good the for the most part, but by the time we got the dogs a little settled he was getting a tad fussy.  Figures. Plus, to top it off, I had a wool sweater on and was starting to sweat like the Christmas goose. Not pretty. That's about the time I was ready to just call it off and try again another day. I'm thinkin' "Ugh! I wonder if Tyra goes through this."  But then all of a sudden, it all came together and Nellie (our best friend photographer) was able to snap some great shots!  Whew!  "Get this sweater off me!!!"

Here are a few from the shoot:

Ugh, this is hard work keepin' us all lookin' good.

Lucy....dammit! good as it gets.    2010 is in the books.

Okay, so that's a wrap!  The hot blasted sweaters started coming off, the lamps and lighting all were all adjusted to normal, and we started putting the furniture back.  Our fabulous photographer was busy putting away her camera ..... when out of the blue, we all spotted something.  Amongst all the chaos ensuing from finishing the shoot, we see our little Lucy sitting underneath the Christmas tree....simply posing.   "Pssssssst, Nellie.......get your camera back out quick and see if you can get a shot."  And did she ever.  Lucy definitely takes after me.

So, now I leave you with our final shot of the evening......our little Lucy.....our little poser. Can you stand it?

"Hi.  Merry Christmas"
Do you have any Christmas photo stories (or photos) you'd like to share? Leave a comment and share your story.

2 Brads on Goodkin

An article about our family was posted today on the website and talked about our recent interview with Fox News that will air in the next few days in Washington D.C. (we'll let you know for sure)  I'd like to share that post with you so that you can follow the subsequent postings that we'll have over the next few weeks.

Here's a link to the post on Goodkin, and while you're there you can "like" the article for FB at the bottom:

The Brads

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hero or Idiot?

How many of you saw the news story today about the gunman at the Florida school board meeting this week?  When I first saw the newscast, I was shocked to see the female board member who snuck up behind the gunman and hit him with her purse.

Like some, it first tickled my funny bone and I had to rewind the DVR to view it again. It cracked me up that this woman thought she was going to take this guy out with her handbag.  What an idiot!  The gunman was obviously disturbed, plus he was quite a big man.... and here was the small framed woman sneaking up behind him all bad-ass like and jumped him......with her purse. I mean, WTH!? I then went to bed not fully grasping the severity of the story.

The next morning on the Today Show, I found out the actual gunman was shot dead after he had opened fire on one of the board members. The also interviewed three of the members, including the woman with the purse, Ginger Littleton.  Apparently, Littleton was attempting to at least knock the gun out of Crazy's hand to provide some chance of preventing a shooting. Littleton now admits it probably wasn't the brightest idea, but she was only acting on instinct and wanted to protect "her guys." To her credit, she is quoted as saying:
"My guys were actually lined up like pigeons on a wire (in front of Duke), one after the other, and it would have taken two seconds for him to take every one of them out. And they had three-ring binders and pencils for defenses,"
My initial reaction to Littleton was that she was an idiot. Is she? After seeing her this morning, I kind of feel like she's some type of hero.....not sure to what level, but a hero in her own right.  Here she was, taking action against a menace to protect others....even at the potential cost of her own life. If put in the same situation, I have to ask myself if I would even think about doing the same thing. I would like to think that I would ....I do care about others and don't have an overwhelming feeling of  "self," but now that I have a family of my own....would I?

Although Littleton's attempt failed miserably, she at least tried....she did something out of concern for her fellow man. I feel this is something rarely seen in modern society. Or, is it that we are just bombarded with all the negative aspects of humanity that acts like this are overshadowed and seem so few and far between?  Do we need more Littleton's in the world? Are you a Littleton?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

This story erupted so many questions in my head about who I am and who I want my son to see me as being. Truthfully, I hope I am never ever put in a situation like this where my life and the lives of others are put in danger, but if so....what would I do? Let's pray I never find out.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Fairy Godmother is Born

Tonight was a night of celebration. Kyler was visited tonight by Brad's best friend, Kim, and her boyfriend, Chris, from New York. We all headed to dinner at our favorite local restaurant, Olazzo, for some "catch-up" time. This was the first time Kim was meeting Kyler... and what a special night it turned out to be. 

Kyler (well, we) presented a small gift to Kim to open at dinner this evening. Inside was a small acrylic frame with a picture of Kyler (of course) with an inscription that read:  "Godson"    At that moment, we were sharing with Kim our desire for her to be Kyler's other godmother (he has two, you know). We figured, if he has two dads, why can't he have two godmothers?  So be it!

So, along with our niece, Jessica, Kim will join the ranks of a very important role in Kyler's life .... godmother.  We couldn't have asked for two better people that we trust to help guide Kyler in his spiritual journey ... and also just to love him unconditionally. We are truly blessed that they both have accepted their new "role," and we look forward to our son growing up surrounded by God's love with the guidance of his two godmothers.

It was truly a reason to celebrate. This video captured the event and shares it all (seen below) ... the sheer excitement on Kim's face is validation enough that we made the perfect choice and that Kyler will enjoy watching this video for years to come. Thank you to Kim and Jessica for accepting the commitment to our son. We love you both dearly!

-The Brads

Questions:  Do you have a godmother?  Are you still in contact with your godmother or godfather? What role do they play in your life today?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Kyler(s) Christmas

Tonight was the holiday party for our condominium building here at MICA. Our Social Committee worked hard to beautifully decorate our media room and put on a great spread, including cheese and chocolate fondue. I might have said, "I do" to the fondue!

We dressed up Kyler in his little red Santa suit (see below) that was given to him by his Auntie Kathy from Seattle. He stole our heart once more when we saw how cute he was in his outfit. This was Kyler's first official party, so he needed to look his best.  ;)  
Santa suit from Aunt Kathy

The fun part of the evening was the arrival of 9 month old Kyler, who also lives in our building. Can you believe it? We only have about 4 babies in our entire building, and one of them shares the same unique name with our son. They are only 7 months apart ... if given time, I bet they could be besties. The other Kyler (OK) is extremely cute and almost looks like he has the same nose as Kyler. OK's parents seem very sweet, so we are hoping for some play-dates in the future with our sons. The picture below captured a very funny moment between the two of them. We sat Kyler down on the floor next to OK to introduce them, and Kyler's expression here is like, "This kid has my name already, and now he wants my Santa suit. HELP!" It was actually very cute ... OK gave Kyler a couple of pats to the face and then was on his way. 

Kyler did play a key role in the evening though. During the White Elephant gift exchange, Brad was holding Kyler and stole a Pier 1 snowman ornament that had been previously opened. Brad was keen on keeping the gift, so he put the ornament in Kyler's hand and was saying to him, "Don't you just love your ornament, Kyler?"  At that moment, he had won ... no one was going to walk up and steal this ornament from the hand of a babe ..... or Kyler's.  LOL!  It was a brilliant move by Brad, and that's one of the many reasons I love him.....always thinkin'. 

All in all, it was a great celebration. Kyler's first holiday party was a success.... no cranks, no poops, and no smelly gas.  It's a 100% in my book, if you ask me. 

-The Brads

Questions:  Have you enjoyed any holiday parties yet? Do you have a favorite memory from a holiday party in the past? Do you hate holiday parties?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Hope For Thanks

On the eve of Thanksgiving, I want to pause to reflect on a few of the many things for which I hope to one day be thankful for.

I hope to be thankful for a movement that swept this nation that helped all kids finally feel safe and secure in their schools. For legislation that helped to make bullying not only illegal, but socially unacceptable so all children, no matter how far "off from normal," can be confident that they’ll be protected against physical and verbal abuse. They will take hope in their peers now wearing purple once each year in memory of those whose lives were lost or destroyed due to bullying, not to protest an on-going problem.

I hope to be thankful that no one can be legally fired from a job just because they’re gay, lesbian, or gender non-conforming. The passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 201? will cap a long, hard battle led by openly LGBT members of Congress and their many straight allies who believe in justice and equality.

I hope to be thankful to those LGBT citizens openly serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, and the brave activists who made their service possible with the repeal of DODT in late 2010.

I hope to be thankful that I live in a nation that fully understands that the right to basic health care is fundamental, and a sign of a compassionate society.

Mostly, I hope to be thankful to live in a country that accepts and values the relationship I have with Brad – and that we are both parents to our beautiful son, Kyler. I hope to say that not so many years ago, I feared he would live in a country where fear and bias prevented loving and committed same-sex couples from marrying, and where he’d be subject to ridiculous ideas that his family didn’t have the same value as others.

I am thankful today, however, for Brad and my family. Each day I wake up and feel blessed in so many beautiful ways. I have love in my heart that also has a home in the hearts of two others. I am also thankful for all of my friends and family who have supported us and continue to support us as we build our family. We couldn't have done it without you!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Help Send Kathy to Hawaii

Remember my friend, Kathy (Graddy) Barr? Well, they've entered a contest to send her to Hawaii for her 40th birthday. Currently, they are in first place, but they have some stiff competition right on their heels. If you can take a moment to vote for their family photo (Currently PHOTO #5, with WSU Cougar gear on), it would be appreciated! Here are the instructions:

To register
  • Near the top, click on the red "Register Now" button
  • Fill out the fields with red asterisks next to them. You'll need to make up a username and password to use just for voting on this site. You don't need to enter your street address or any information that doesn't have the red asterisk by it. Make sure you check the box that says "Please don't give out my email address..."
  • Submit your information
  • You'll get an email very shortly. Open it and click the link in it to verify that your email address is really yours, and now you're registered.

You can vote each day, but even just one day will really help. To vote each day, follow this link:

  • Log into your account at the top of the screen
  • Click on "Vote" in the brown bars at the top of the screen
  • Hit "next" until you see our picture, we should be picture number 5
  • Under our picture, click on "Save vote"