Family Weekend at Gay Days Anaheim

October 3, 2014 by  
Filed under

Family Equality Council partners with Gay Days Anaheim to bring even more family activities to this incredible celebration at Disneyland. Join them for a fun-filled weekend that includes many opportunities to build community and celebrate your family, all while enjoying the magic of Disneyland!

 

Share

Family Week

July 26, 2014 by  
Filed under

Family Week is Family Equality Council’s largest annual event. In it’s 19th year, this fun-filled week will include numerous opportunities to build community among attendees and to get empowered on the issues that face our communities today. Family Week is help on iconic Cape Cod, in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

From sun-up to sundown, Family Week offers programming for your entire family. Each morning and afternoon is filled with programming for individual age groups, and each evening yields a signature Family Week event for all ages. Ask some Family Week veterans; Family Week really is for ALL families!

Family Equality and COLAGE are partnering once again to create an amazing week full of great conversations, dancing, games and so much more with LGBTQ parents, children, families, and friends that join us in Provincetown!

For more information check out the FAQs page. Also, feel free to check out a slideshow from last years event!

)

Share

Roald Dahl’s The Magic Finger

May 18, 2014 by  
Filed under

MAINSTREET THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS

Roald Dahl’s The Magic Finger

Based on the book by Roald Dahl
Adapted by David Wood
Directed by Abigail Deser

To the Gregg family, hunting is just plain fun. To Lucy, it’s just horrible. She tries to talk them out of it politely, but they don’t listen. Then one day they go too far, and she turns her Magic Finger on them. You see, when Lucy gets angry, her Magic Finger takes over. She really can’t control it – like the time she turned her teacher into a cat. This time, she’s turned the Greggs into birds, and…are those ducks moving into their house? David Wood’s brand new adaptation captures all of Roald Dahl’s quirky humor while making you wonder what it’s like to see the world from another point of view. (For ages 7+)

General: $18.00
Senior/Youth: $16.00

Opening Weekend: May 3, 2014 – May 18, 2014

Share

Gay Dad: The First 4 Surprises of Parenting

April 14, 2014 by  
Filed under John Jericiau, Same Sex Parent

By John Jericiau
IMG_6674

The Poop! – The first black tar that comes out of your child is shocking.  After that the months are a blur but the amount of poop you’re handling and butt you’re wiping is etched in your brain.  The quantity increases exponentially with each increasing size of diaper.  When you’re at a 4 and you find a leftover NB on the bottom of the diaper bag that you finally have a free minute to clean out, you wonder how the NB fit on your baby, let alone hold any poop.  You try to stay ahead of the tide of poop and be prepared to move up a size before the quantity becomes overwhelming, but it’s futile.  When you least expect it (meaning when you have no change of clothes available and you’re in the biggest rush), the poop will find its way out of your toddler’s clothing much like the Blob found its way out of each building that they tried to contain it in.  If you haven’t experienced the poop crawling up baby’s back and exiting through its hair and neckline, you haven’t lived!

The Meltdowns! – Your child is having the best day.  You haven’t seen him so happy-go-lucky and carefree.  He is enjoying every moment of quality time with you, his siblings, and anyone else who we meet along the way.  You’re thinking to yourself, “This is so great.  I must be doing something right.  And I lucked out with such a healthy, normal kid!”  Then it happens.  You accidentally toss out the wrapper of his granola bar with an eighth of an ounce of unfinished bar still lodged in the unripped end of the wrapper.  You didn’t see it in there.  You have a brand new bar, with six yummy ounces all waiting to be devoured.  But no matter.  The ground shakes and the sky falls, as all hell breaks loose.  You see the two eyes of your offspring merge into one as the deafening sounds explode and the body goes limp in a pile right in front of you and other horrified spectators.  The show goes on for what seems like eternity before the anger turns into a cold shoulder with intermittent shuttering as the emotions wind down.  The magic is gone, and all you can do is hope that there will be another day soon when it will return.  You walk on eggshells the rest of the day, and breathe a sigh of relief when the bedroom door is closed after the last good night.

The Activities! – Who knew there were so many activities for kids in this world?  Maybe it’s because we live in the shadow of a mayor metropolis (Los Angeles) whereas my childhood was in a very rural area (upstate New York), but who has choices like this?  Is this normal to have five different activities to choose from for each half of each weekend day?  And websites that are geared toward letting parents know what is available (i.e. Red Tricycle).  For slow half days you always have the fallbacks like Disneyland, Santa Monica Pier, the beach, Universal Studios, Knott’s Berry Farm, Kidspace, the Zoo, or Underwood Farms.  Of course that’s if you don’t have a play date planned with your child’s friend, or friend of a friend, or sibling of a friend.  Or with one of the above mentioned does not have a fabulous birthday party to which your child is invited.  If you have relatives nearby that’s always an intermittent visit.  Then there’s always the library!  The point is that all these venues and events have been created for the sole purpose of getting you sanely to around eight or nine o’clock at night, where it’s then all up to you to “put down” your child.  Personally I’m waiting for someone to devise a “put down” party.

The Love! – I used to hear parents say that they would gladly lose a leg for their child, or even give up their life, and I would kind of chuckle to myself.  I like my legs, and I’m in no rush to end my life.  But now that I’m almost seven years and three boys into the whole parenting thing, I would throw in a kidney, an eyeball, and a tongue for them.  Every day I’m doing things that I would never have imagined myself doing before the boys were here.  Scoping out the road as we make our way across the intersection.  Putting the texting machine (i.e. my cellphone) in the trunk as I drive the boys around town.  Catching a sneezeful of snot in my bare hand so my sniffly older son will not infect my still healthy youngest.  But those pale in comparison to the ways that my sons show their love to me.  Asking, “Can we snuggle?” as we catch the last bit of TV before bed.  Running over and making sure I’m okay when I hit my head on the corner of an opened cabinet door.  Yelling, “I love you, Daddy!!!” out the front door as I start on my jog down to the beach, over and over again until I am simply too far away to hear that it’s still happening.  It is surprise number 4 that makes surprises 1, 2, and 3 so easy to deal with.  I just hope I’m ready for 5, 6, and 7.

Share

Farmer’s Market “Mutti” Gras Pet Parade

April 12, 2014 by  
Filed under

For all who were looking forward to Mutti Gras, we hope you and your four-legged friends come out to the new and improved Easter Pet Parade and Costume Contest! Dress up your pooch and enter the costume contest for great prizes! And, you can even take pictures with the Easter Bunny.

Call The Dog Bakery at 323-935-7512 for info and to register your pup.

Share

Gay Dad: Do As I Say, Not As I Did

April 7, 2014 by  
Filed under John Jericiau, Same Sex Parent

By John Jericiau
rockefeller center christmas tree

Born in the 60’s and living as a teenager in the mid to late 70’s, my early years seem so much different than anything my sons are sure to experience when they hit their teen years. That’s a good thing because the world has so much more to offer now. Alas, that’s also a bad thing. They have a hyper vigilant father, because in this day and age I know I have to be. There is social media, the Internet, and cell phones to contend with. Predators get their own five-week coverage on CNN, so we learn every scary detail about them. Across the nation gay men and women are enjoying a ride to the land of normalcy as we speak, but with that comes the extremists and religious zealots who will stop at nothing to prove their point, even going as far as to hurt our children.

I’m torn because I want my sons to have a sense of adventure, but I’m afraid that if they do some of things that I myself have done or experienced, my heart will not be able to take it. I’ve gone skydiving, for example, just to check it off my bucket list, but with skydiving the odds seem very much in the jumper’s favor. Nevertheless, I will be horrified the day they tell me they want to try it (and I’m sure that at least one of them will!)

I’ve had other experiences that I couldn’t even fathom happening in this day and age. Like my solo bicycle ride across the US when I was 22. Several months before the summer of 1984 I announced to my parents that I would be bicycling across the nation in order to get to California, which I had recently come to learn was a mecca for both triathlon training and gay life! Who knew? Although my parents were a little nervous to say the least, there was no negotiation or discussion about the rationality or the intelligence of my decision. I was doing it and that was that. I could not imagine anything less than a ton of conversations with plenty of grilling going on with my boys if they were to want to do this trip.

For two months (91 miles per day average), I pedaled west (and then south down the entire Pacific coast), not knowing where I was going to sleep each night until I got there. If it wasn’t a church yard, or school yard, or behind a billboard, or in the woods right off of the beaten path (I had a lightweight tent and sleeping bag with me), then it was in the home of an absolute stranger that invited me in for the evening. I hadn’t watched ‘Nancy Grace’ or ‘America’s Most Wanted’ prior to my trip, so I had no reason to think that anyone had any bad intentions. In other words, I was extremely naïve. That would not be the case with my sons. I would totally load them up with fear.

Another time, when I was a young athletic 15-year old just learning about sensuality and sexuality (I was a late bloomer), my family took the hour-long car ride to New York City to see the big tree at night in Rockefeller Center during Christmas break. We ate at a fairly upscale restaurant right across from the tree, with a beautiful window table so we could see the tree as we dined. It was halfway through the meal when I noticed him. An older guy (30s?) was smiling at me through the window, and then the current of the crowd would take him away. Minutes later he was back, giving me “the look” as he was again swept away. This went on for the remainder of the meal and I could hardly contain myself. When he saw us getting up after settling the bill, he was gone and did not return to the window, despite my every attempt to will him back.

We went close to the tree where a crowd was of course congregating all around, celebrating and meandering as the holiday music played and flurries fell in the freezing cold. I was standing a couple of rows behind my family, just so it wasn’t so obvious that I was searching for my guy with the jean jacket over a white hoodie. All of a sudden I could feel hands come from behind me and slip effortlessly into each of my pockets. I knew right away it was he as he pulled me close to his gymnast body and said, “You are so sexy.” I think I said “You too”, but the music was crazy loud by now and anyway it didn’t matter what I said. I stood there and enjoyed his hands for the next several moments until he was gone, just in time for my parents to say, “Let’s get going” to my siblings and me. I now know how easy it would have been to pull me away to a windowless van waiting down the street.

Overall I think my experiences affected me positively but clearly I dodged some bullets. My parents didn’t have the World Wide Web. They had seven television channels, one of which was extremely fuzzy unless they shook the rabbit ears just right. I will do my best now to stay ahead of the learning curve, be on the lookout for the danger de jour, and talk talk talk to my sons about what lies ahead, and beneath, and above them. Learn from my mistakes, I’ll say, no matter how pleasurable they actually were.

Share

Jumping in Puddles is a part of Fatherhood

March 31, 2014 by  
Filed under Family

Jumping in puddles

It happens at least once a week. I’ll be walking somewhere with Eloise, my five year-old, and I’ll see a puddle ahead. Immediately I know I have a decision to make: Can she jump in it? Sadly, my instinct is to nearly always find a reason to say No. ‘You’re in your school uniform.’ ‘We need to keep those clothes clean.’ ‘You haven’t got your wellies on.’ The list goes on.

The sheer joy I see on my girls’ faces when they get to jump up and down, unrestrained, in muddy puddles is beyond precious.

I know why this is. If she ends up wet and dirty, it’ll mean more work for me having to clean her up later. But other than when we’re on our way to school, there aren’t really many occasions when ending up soaked from a muddy puddle would be the end of the world.

So I’ve tried to lighten up on this front. On Sunday I took Eloise and Imogen—who’s nearly two—for a walk along a river with a friend before heading to a playground. Naively, I hadn’t anticipated the ground being as wet as it was and so neither of my girls had their wellies on.

When I saw all the mud and puddles, I tried at first to get them to avoid them, badgering them both to walk around them all. I quickly realized this was stupid, not to mention pointless. They were going to have so much more fun if I let them get on with it.

And so the puddle jumping commenced.

There’s something wonderful and freeing about not caring how dirty we get. I could see it in their faces. There wasn’t a single thought about everything needing to be washed later or getting cold from wearing damp clothes. They were simply reveling in the moment.

As adults, we rarely get to experience this. We’re always thinking about the consequences. This is mostly a good thing. But I’m wondering whether sometimes we need to learn from our kids, embrace the moment, and not care about what has to get cleaned or tidied later.

It’s very tempting to try to tame this non-caring in our kids. But I’m convinced it’s worth, sometimes at least, resisting that temptation. The sheer joy I see on my girls’ faces when they get to jump up and down, unrestrained, in muddy puddles is beyond precious. Why would I want to constantly deprive them of these moments?

Pretty much every time she see’s a puddle, Eloise gives me this delightful look that, without any words needing to be said, simply asks with such hope and anticipation: ‘Can I?’ And hard as it is sometimes, I’m trying to say Yes more and more. It’s good for her soul. And, who knows, maybe in becoming more relaxed about this, it’s good for mine too.

Maybe I still need to go further though. It’s one thing to give the OK to my girls getting dirty in muddy puddles, but what if I need to let go too? I know I’m meant to be respectable and grown up, but wouldn’t my girls love it if I joined in with them sometimes?

And that’s my new goal. Having decided to be more relaxed about my girls getting wet and dirty, I’m going to try and join in with them sometimes.

So, bring on the muddy puddles!

Photo: Flickr Scooter Lowrimore

This article came from Sam Radford on The Good Men Project 

Share

Gay Dad: Be Prepared!

March 31, 2014 by  
Filed under John Jericiau, Same Sex Parent

By John Jericiau

be prepared

I often have this same recurring dream. I just woke up from it in fact. I’m in my Honda Odyssey. It’s been parked outside a party or some kind of get together. The event has ended and I’m in the driver’s seat about to start it. The road that I’m parked on is extremely steep, and I’m parked facing uphill. There is snow on the ground and all my windows are foggy from the cold except for the front windshield. I have black gloves on.

I proceed to turn the key to start the engine, and nothing happens. The engine doesn’t turn over. However, I do begin to roll backward. Ever so slowly at first, but I quickly pick up speed. Nothing I do to prevent this from happening works. I can’t turn off the car. I can’t shift gears. The other partygoers that are meandering back to their cars start to scream. I feel large objects as my Odyssey drives over them.

My rationale mind takes over and I decide that I have to do something. My speed is increasing and I don’t want to crash someone’s dinner on the way down the hill. Blindly I cut the steering wheel one direction as hard as I can, and the behemoth I was trying to control raises its left front and left rear wheels. I softly (never with a bang) land and slide for a bit on the entire right side of the vehicle, until I come to a gradual stop. No crash, no explosion. I’m not hurt. Partygoers come running and I fearfully ask if I hurt anyone. Not a soul. It’s only then that I remember that I had a baby sleeping in the car seat behind my seat. I whip my head around to see that he is still sleeping soundly.

I’m not sure why this is floating around in my head. Some say that dreams are a reflection of our best hopes and worst worries. I shouldn’t be worried about snow. I live in Southern California (although I’m originally from New York.) It’s fairly flat in our beach community, although we spend a fair amount of time in the mountains surrounding us. Plus, in all my years I’ve never seen a car accident happen, let alone be in one (and I have probably jinxed – double jinxed – that streak.)

I have had some problems with my Honda. Now and then it would fail to start, much like in my dream, and I would have to find a jump. I recently had a new battery installed, covered by the warranty. And there was the time in the first month I had the Honda, where I felt that there was a delay from the time I pressed on the gas until the time where I started moving forward, and I rolled backwards in my driveway a few feet until the wall of my house stopped me. I’ve kept that boo boo covered for 1 ½ years with an Obama supporter magnet, but after many times finding it thrown on the ground by people passing by my parking spot at a store, it recently disappeared completely.

I’m surprised that I don’t have nightmares about my greatest fear: child abduction. I’ve stopped watching ‘Nancy Grace’ or ‘America’s Most Wanted’ long ago because of the head games those shows would play on me. I imagine that because of all the haters out there (and now that Fred Phelps has died there is at least one less) who will stop at nothing to extinguish my happiness, they will try to hit me right where it hurts. Not my wallet, but my heart. And as any parent knows, steal my kid and game over. I know it’s crazy to think that someone would take a child just because of whom their parent loves, but I’ve lived through 9/11, and I’ve read about the murders in Russia, so I’ve got to keep my guard up.

So as I’m sitting in my house listening to the boys play in the backyard, and there comes a lull in the noise, I find myself running back to check on them, or yelling back there “Everybody okay?” or I ask them to sing that song from ‘Frozen’ yet one more time.

As I’m driving I’m constantly studying my surroundings, inventing scenarios and the solutions to escape them. If that oncoming bus suddenly veered into my lane, what would I do? If that mild mannered Pit Bull on the ground ahead of us suddenly charged out at my boys, which foot would I use to kick it and knock it out? Or if someone in a nondescript van snatched one of my boys who was lagging a half a block back while we were walking down the street, would I chase it or call for help? The police would take about 5 minutes to get to my house; Uber about 3.

It’s tiring being so vigilant, always having to be on your toes. But the alternative is frightening, horrific, and maddening. So I will stay prepared, and maybe someday I will wake up from the nightmare called hate.

Share

Gay Dad: When The To-Do List Becomes To-Didn’t

March 25, 2014 by  
Filed under John Jericiau, Same Sex Parent

By John Jericiau
To-Do-List

It happens often, and it’s happening right now. Even though I have three boys and all the activities in their lives to orchestrate, there are times when our household is running like a well-oiled machine, humming through life day by day with ease. I have no worries, except wondering how I’m going to spend each moment of each fabulous day.

This is not one of those times. Maybe it’s because one parent (my other half) has been travelling for work a lot in an unpredictable pattern. It might be because the boys have passed around a cold virus like a ping-pong ball at the rec center. Or perhaps one might say it’s because we have three boys under 7.

While these might be factors that shake up the schedule, most parents are well aware that this is just how life works. Just when things are running smoothly and you’re getting a handle on your to-do list, getting back to consistent workouts, and actually reading a book, a rogue wave comes along to wash away all your careful planning.

Colds and other illnesses are always a danger. Besides having a miserable child, you have a miserable child who is banned from all their activities (so they are with you nearly 24/7 to infect you) and who is extra clingy (and ready to infect you with a productive cough that has your face as a target.)

The extended family is always a threat to a calm life. Aging parents have more reports of discomfort and pain than a classroom full of kids, and you’re recipient numero uno of those reports. Siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles have their own lives and troubles, babies and divorces, accidents and arrests, and depending on your relationship with the particular relative, you may feel like you have an extra child or two.

Other things I call administrative in nature can take up a huge chunk of your time and energy, and believe me sometimes these things are the bane of my existence. Finding time to work on these silent killers (silent because they get no press, no pay, and no applause) can be frustrating. This is usually how I find myself spending the hours of 9:00pm to 11:00pm much to the chagrin of my other half, who nevertheless understands that I honestly have no other time in my day to perform the administrative duties. Preparing taxes (heavy on my mind right now), paying bills, and picking out summer activities. Planning vacation, making doctor’s appointments, and buying new clothes for boys who are growing like weeds. Laundry, dishes, and general cleaning. I say general cleaning because forget about getting to more specific cleaning. Weeks have gone by where I’ve noticed a random pile of dirt or a toy in the corner, and I have literally not had a second to pick it up. Sounds utterly crazy, but I know you know what I’m talking about.

Renew a passport. Call a friend. Get a vehicle’s oil changed. File some papers. Buy the monthly anniversary gift. Reorganize the closet in the foyer. After a while the list that constantly loops through my brain becomes a loud numbing buzz, one that paralyzes me and prevents me from doing anything on the list. So I get nothing done that can be characterized as a “project.” Except now I am really really good at making lists. And complaining about the length and difficulty of them to anyone who will listen – which is no one because who listens to an aging parent?

Share

Gay Dad: Our Surrogate, Our Friend

March 17, 2014 by  
Filed under John Jericiau, Same Sex Parent

By John Jericiau

Image: Private 1st class Rona Operio, the first female marine drill instructor from the first batch of female enlisted marines, command her troops at Fort Bonifacio military headquarters in Taguig city

It’s a very unique situation, to say the least. Here I am, a stay-at-home Daddy who is almost seven years deep into the whole parenthood thing. We’ve got three beautiful and thriving sons, two who are 6 years old (but are 8 months apart to the day), and one who is a tad over 16 months old. They’re doing great in school, and participate well in every activity they’ve got going on right now, including tennis lessons, swim lessons, gymnastics, Cross Fit, basketball, and Spanish Immersion. A significant percentage of the time I find myself navigating the day’s (and night’s) events by myself, due to the intensely packed schedule of my husband who is working his doctor butt off on the job while also putting his nose to the grindstone trying to complete successfully his physician executive MBA program. With that and our mutual desire to maintain a high heart rate for at least 60 minutes per day, trying to fit in all that is expected of us (and intimacy – don’t forget the intimacy!) is a huge challenge given the speed that the earth rotates around the sun (meaning there are not enough hours in a day.)

Look around you. Some families have a nanny or two. Not ours. Other families use babysitters to help bridge gaps or provide some needed relief in the schedule. We’ve never used one. And some families have extended families available at the drop of a dime. Ours are not local; although when times are tough we can manage a drive over there for a bit of a break.

The uniqueness I alluded to earlier is that our help comes in the form of our surrogate/friend. Beginning as coworkers, our relationship blossomed into a nice friendship but then absolutely flowered when she offered to carry not one but two of our three sons. And although she was not interested in a biological relationship of any kind (and neither were we – hence the use of egg donors), she was keenly interested in the experience of pregnancy, as she had never experienced that miracle of life previously, and by examining her biological clock, would probably never get the chance to, given the middleness of her age. I’m trying to put lightly that there is no husband in sight and she’s getting up there.

Every Saturday night our surrogate/friend has watched our two boys and then the third as well when he came along, in order for us to enjoy date night. I can count on one hand how many times we have missed date night in the last half a decade. This alone is huge, and we are enormously grateful (which still pales in comparison to the grateful we feel for carrying our sons, which is humungous.) But the kicker is that there’s more! On her days off, on weekends, on her vacations, she will come over to hang out and lend a hand. Ever have moments when your three boys are acting out and screaming and pretty much acting crazy and you think to yourself that you wish you could grow another hand? In our case my friend’s hand magically appears like a pond in the middle of a desert. She is truly a big help, the boys really like her, and she has definitely become one of the members of our family.

With all this good, which is really good, you have to know that there’s gonna be some bad, albeit not real bad. Just some things that might not occur to a person who has not had a chance to stand in our size 10 ½ shoes. Such as disciplining. The differences in style can be a little more than perplexing. While we might try to reason more and explain our decisions and the rationale we used to come to those decisions, she might be more Army Sargent in her approach. The boys know they only have two parents, but we want our friend to have some disciplining power to handle the boys, especially in our absence, so we tolerate her differences when they appear in our presence, even if it’s not exactly how we would do it.

If we’re enjoying a family night out, whether it’s dinner, the movies, or what not, invariably someone will say to our friend “Beautiful kids, Mom!” especially if my better half is not with us and it appears more likely that we are a heterosexual couple. Now, I’ve been out of the closet a long time (30 years to be exact), with no intention of going back in, but comments like this (harmless and as well-intentioned as they might be) don’t feel right to me. I do not want to appear (or act) any other way than the way I really am, which is really gay. The not-right feeling gets a notch stronger when my friend will, without hesitation, say; “Oh, thank you!” right back. The hairs in my ears stand on end as I smile graciously and take two deep breaths. I find that I am often reminding myself of the gifts that my friend has altruistically given to my family. Inside I am embarrassed of these feelings, for I want to give back to my friend a little happiness, and share some of the feeling of family that runneth over my cup, and stop being so concerned with my own selfish feelings. So I take the opportunity presented to me to hug my boys, thank the stranger, and give a big wet one on the lips of my husband.

Share

Next Page »