Thursday, July 19, 2007

Life as I know it as of today

It's been somewhat of a crazy week. Re-entry to the world, after having a week of bliss, has been difficult.

If you've been reading Debra's blog, you know that there's been a reality check with regards to the Cancer. If you haven't, let me give you a little update. Upon her request and probably necessity, the doctors agreed to do the CT of her liver and pelvic area. The news wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great either. Based on the results, they've decided to switch Debra over to her 4th chemotherapy regimen.

What does all that mean? Who *truly* knows. I can say my mind has whirled all over the place and still is. I can't speak for Debra, but I'm just having a hard time staying "in the now."

For me, this just give a glimpse of what the future will be like...indefinitely. The hardest part is the lack of specific information. It's all just speculation. How many more times will we go through answering questions like, "Are the lesions growing?", "What does that pain mean?" or "Are the drugs still working?" It's hard on your heart and soul to go through this on a regular basis.

My biggest worries are how this will/is effecting Sofie. She's such an intuitive kid. I think there's big significance to the fact that she wants me to sing "Seasons of Love" from Rent to her. There's a particular verse that end with the line, "And the way that she dies." Sofie's kind of fixated on that line right now. Is she picking up on our fear? Does she know something we don't?

Whatever your thing, please keep our little family in your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cruise in a nutshell

Try as I may, I haven't had the time nor inclination to write long posts about our experiences on the cruise. So, I'm going to do a "highlights of" post for now. Realize this coming from someone who never thought she'd like cruises AND who detests hot weather almost as much as she detests the current administration.



I cannot say enough good things about the quality of people on the ship. From the crew to the guests everyone I encountered was pleasant, friendly and seemingly having the time of their lives. It was heart warming to see all the gay dads on board.

In an odd twist, Debra and I apparently switched part of our personalities somewhere between Manhattan and the boat. I don't know what happened. I was outgoing and meeting people left and right. I went up to people I didn't know and started conversations. (On a side note, if any of you saw the 20/20 special on transgender kids that aired a month or so ago, the family w/ the 11 yo twins was on board. I talked to the mom and thanked her for sharing their story. Of course, I had tears in my eyes as I spoke with her.) Debra hung out in a very low key way with our friend Laurie and new friend Sher(a friend of one of Debra's friends from SF) and her lovely pre-teen daughter, Max(whom Sofie adored!) Bizarro.

I met some really interesting people. Some with interesting lives, but most were normal everyday families, just raising their children (or trying to have/adopt children), worrying about the state of things in the country/world and living their lives like everyone else. A big shout out to my new Ohio friends who greeted me on the very first day saying they had read my blog and just wanted to see how we were doing. (If you guys are reading this, click on the email link on the front page and send me a note letting me know how you guys are doing. Sorry I didn't get your email before we left the boat!!)


For many people on the cruise this was a repeat performance, so to speak. In the days following the cruise many folks complained about the entertainment, just hoping that they'd mix it up a bit next time. For me, it was all new, so I thought it was incredible.

The comedians were they should be. There was Judy Gold, Alec Mapa(doesn't have a website?!?!) and Jessica Kirson. I'd seen, at least on TV, Judy and Alec, but what a surprise and treat Jessica was! As many have already stated about her, I laughed until I almost peed myself!! And of course there was Rosie. Seth, Micheal Lee and many others from the RFamily staff are comedians in their own right!

Broadway music was abound on board. One of my favorite parts of the cruise was the ending of the opening show, Rosie's Broadway Belters. Capathia Jenkins, from Martin Shorts:Fame Becomes Me sang her song, "Stop the Show" in which she proclaims "Yes, I have just one question/ Which I'll ask, if I may/ Why the hell did they name it/ the Great White Way?/ Cause if you want a hit/ learn what Sondheim doesn't know/ and let a big black lady stop the show!" What a fun song! You can actually see her perform it on a somewhat shaky You Tube here. We also got to see a kids version of Broadway Belter's doing songs from more kid friendly shows. Sofie, Debra and I all enjoyed it.

Other entertainment included Erasure, Euan Morton and Sandra Bernhard. I didn't make it to either of those shows so I can't personally comment, however all the buzz on the boat was excellent.


Yes, workshops! Family Pride, a wonderful national organization fighting for our families rights, coordinated most of the on board workshops. They were insightful, informative and fun. Debra and I attended one on "Making Schools Safe" and boasted about our lesbian heavy PTA. We took turns attending other workshops, some informative and others just plain fun. One of my favorites was "Doing Voice overs presented by the voice of porky pig" Bob Bergen is name and he's a really nice guy. At one point in the cruise we chatted and although he doesn't do any of the voices for Scooby Doo, he delivered a nice attempt at Shaggy and Scooby for Sofie. She giggled and really enjoyed chatting with him. I think Debra enjoyed the workshop by Mitchell Gold on decorating. For this life long learner, it was great to have the opportunity to gather more information about things I may have not encountered in life.



I have to say, the only "bad" part of the cruise for me was the food. So if you're looking for 7 days of fine dining, don't cruise. However, I think most people are in it for more than that!

The food wasn't bad, per se. It was mediocre. We did have some good meals and great service when we went to Aqua, one of their sit down restaurants. Everything else was average. Sometimes the service was poor to nonexistent. We actually left Blue Lagoon after waiting for quite awhile and never saw a waitstaff...and this was at NOON during lunchtime!! Garden Cafe was our staple due to the kids buffet. I got tired of having the same thing for breakfast everyday, but for Debra that was heaven since she got to have lox and bagels everyday. Sofie enjoyed the limitless amounts of sausage and bacon...and often out ate any adult in the room! I was happy to have fresh Muesli everyday.


As stated above, I'm not a hot weather girl, so I was miserable with the heat, sun and lack of outside shelter. That didn't keep me from having a great time. It did cause me to stay inside more than I'd have liked. Glad next years cruise is heading north!

All in all, we had a great trip. People were worried that we might have issues staying in the same small cabin for a week. I can honestly say that's the furthest thing from the truth. Of course we had some issues, but what family doesn't?!? What was basic was the good time we intended/needed to have and how we accomplished that. I'm no longer a naysayer about cruising...however, I think I limit my cruising to RFamily vacations, where I know life is accepted and cherished for what it is. If you or your family are interested, please join us on next summers adventure to Canada, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island!!

If you want to see pictures, just click on the links to the right, starting with "Cruisin' with Rfamily," all the way through "Towel Animals from the Cruise."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Reality check post cruise

Wanted to check in and let everyone know we made it back safely from our big cruise adventure. Throughout the week, I'll be back posting some musings on the cruise. For now, I'll just give a few comments on being back in the real world.

Before the cruise I kept hearing from previous RFamily cruisers how wonderful it was to be on vacation in such a safe environment. I understand that many families struggle to be who they are in their community. Personally, we don't have those issues as we have many GLBT families and opened minded straights. Our daughter is lucky to be in a progressive school where two moms isn't all that unusual and our PTA has 2 of the 4 officers that are lesbian. So coming from that place, I really wasn't expecting to be in need of those freedoms that others just don't have. Now upon returning from the trip I can see what folks mean, but with a slightly different perspective.

Tonight, Debra and Sofie picked me up at my place to head to one of Sofie's favorite restaurants, Red Robin. It wasn't until then, did I realize what we had on the cruise. Sitting there, noshing on my burger, I looked around and noticed that all the families were straight...well, at least I think they were. My point is that we weren't obviously surrounded by GLBT families. Culture shock! Now we are back in Kansas North Carolina, Dorthy.

We live our lives daily by going to work, sending Sofie to school/camp, having family outings, dealing with cancer treatment/recurrence, feeding the cats, paying bills...everything that "straight" families do. So why do we get treated so differently by a large part of the world? During the cruise I attended a workshop on blogging that was presented by two long time bloggers, creators of Republic of T and Mombian. A key message they brought to the table was about being out in the mainstream. I think I've done a good job of doing that, but now I know I can do more...and I intend to do that! I'm going to join some mainstream blogs/communities and subtly infiltrate with my lesbian-parent self! My posts may become more political, too. I'm not sure what changes I'll make, but I know, now more than ever, it's time to do just that.

Monday, July 9, 2007

RFamily Cruise, part 1

Yesterday, our friends Maya and Laurie arrived early bird style at our hotel. They had taken a red-eye from California and needed a place to hangout before we all headed to the big boat. They were pretty tired upon arrival so Maya, teenager that she is, immediately cocooned herself into the bedspread and napped until just before we left. Meanwhile, the rest of us headed to Brooklyn Diner on 57th for a fabulous breakfast. I cannot say enough good things about the Blueberry pancakes with lemon zest...Yummy!! I made a very last minute decision to trash my large suitcase, as this was going to be it's last trip anyway. So before we went to breakfast I ran across the street and picked up two bags, one purple and one orange. This made my bags more noticeable and storage so much easier on the ship.

We weren't far from the terminal, but we did have 5 people with at least 8 bags!! However were we going to get to the port? Never fear, hotel guy was near!! He called a company that had those big ass SUVs. We piled into the SUV, luggage and all, and arrived safely at the port terminal. I can't imagine driving in NYC...chaos at it's best. After unloading our bags, finding a porter and being directed to proper place we started our cruise adventure. The lines weren't bad at all and moved quickly. We got to the desk and began our check-in process. It was a bit hectic as we didn't receive the proper papers to fill out before hand. Also, they kept Sofie's passport since it was from Ukraine. (She doesn't have her US Passport yet, so we had to use the Ukranian one...that was expired but no one seemed to notice!!) After finally checking in, we headed to the place where they take your picture, pre-cruise. We anticipated that, so we all wore our different variations of RFamily tees. Little did we know that the background was a green screen, so when we saw the pictures Debra head was floating without a body because she had on a green tshirt. Live and learn.

We'd been warned to bring a change of clothes because they weren't sure when we'd get to be in our rooms or when our luggage would arrive at our stateroom. Sofie wanted to cannonball into the pool...which she did, but was quickly told that there was no jumping in the pool!! We were able to get into our staterooms quite early and our luggage arrived a couple of hours later. I was hungry and cranky by mid afternoon, so I headed to one of the two restaurants that were open...Blue Lagoon. I actually almost walked right past it because it was so small. I've never thought of cubby's as being restaurants, but apparently size doesn't matter on the ship. I found a booth and waited and waited and waited. Finally, someone came took my order and I waited and waited and waited some more. (This was probably an exaggeration, but like I said, I was cranky and hungry!) The food was actually pretty good. Tomato soup and a burger.

The remainder of the day was low key. That evening we received our "FreeStyle Daily" which gave us the list of goings on, so I highlighted what I thought we'd each like to do, then gave it to Debra to see if she wanted to add something. Since this was our first cruise we had no idea if we'd actually get to attend any of the workshops, but we worked it out.

Today is Sunday, the first FULL day of the cruise and there was so much going on! After breakfast at the Garden Cafe, we dropped Sofie off at Kid's Crew(much to her disdain.) We wanted to attend the "Making Schools Safe" workshop that Family Pride created. It was an incredible workshop. Well organized and informative. I'm impressed with what Family Pride is doing for our families.

The afternoon was swimming with Sofie in the sea water pool...yick...yes, sea water! It was de-salinated but still salty and gross to taste and painful to get in your eyes! We're still getting in the groove of things, so by weeks end we'll probably have our regamine down pat!

The evening entertainment was "Rosie's Broadway Belter's." Laurie agreed to hang out with Sofie in the room while Debra and I attended the show. Sofie was tired from swimming and wanted no part of Kid's Crew. (This is going to be a problem, I can tell already!!) We were grateful to Laurie, but apparently it wasn't hard because Sofie slept and slept and slept. We ended up going to dinner after the show because Sofie woke up hungry. We trapse off to the Garden Cafe...again...for lovely buffet food.

Tomorrow is another day, so maybe we'll eat somewhere other than the Garden Cafe!! Oh, to wish.

Friday, July 6, 2007

New York, New York

We flew up to NYC to spend a few days in the city before heading out on the big boat. Thanks to Debra's friend Deb for the drop off at RDU this morning. It was greatly appreciated!!

For this first time flier of JetBlue, I have to say, I liked it. Everything was so simple and uneventful. Flight was smooth and Sofie's favorite thing was that each seat has it's own TV! The Flintstones entertained her for the entire flight. No amusing her necessary.

After arriving at JFK and gathering our bags, I suggested to Debra that we call the "sixes" for a ride to the hotel. (I'd gotten the recommendation off the rfamily forum I became obsessed with pre-cruise.) So, she called 212-666-6666 and arranged a comfy town car to pick us up. We had no idea what the wait would be, but he was there within 10 minutes. While waiting, we had a bit of a teary moment, first for Debra, then for me. Sofie was sitting atop the baggage and she wanted to sing "Seasons of Love" from Rent. She and I started singing it softly and I looked up a Debra and she had a moment and tears were in her eyes, which of course automatically brought tears to my eyes! She said to me, "Please keep doing that with her. Teach her to sing." I know what she was implying and that's bringing tears to my eyes as I type this. So for Debra, know there will ALWAYS be singing in Sofie's life while I'm around!

On Friday, we slept in until after 8am. I love the blackout curtains in a hotel!!! After chillin' for a bit, Sofie and I had her first subway adventure to the zoo. I forgot just how sticky and hot it is down in the subway...yuck. We hopped on our first train and hopped off at the next station, Central Park!! After coming above ground we got our bearings and headed toward the park. Once in the park, we quickly found the zoo. For those of you with kids, you probably know the zoo in the movie Madagascar is based on the zoo in Central Park. It looks very similar to the zoo in the movie and Sofie kept pointing that out to me. We went in to see if we could figure out who Roy, Milo and Tango were, but alas, there's no special placard pointing them out!! We were going to try to stay for the penguin feeding, but it smelled too much like fish and neither Sofie or I enjoyed that smell at ALL! After gagging through that small exhibit we headed for the polar bear exhibit.

We strolled around the rest of the very small zoo, then had the most expensive, yet worst peanut butter sandwich ever made! Luckily Sofie wanted a burger, so she was satisfied and happy. After noshing, we headed to the "children's zoo" part of Central Park Zoo. Pretty uneventful until Sofie and another child crashed into each other while jumping on the "spider web."

As I type this Sofie happily coloring in her new snake coloring book we acquired at Central Park Zoo shop. I'm chillin' waiting on Debra to return from her timeshare meeting. She agreed to do that so we could stay in a nice place for less money. :-)

Later that afternoon Sofie, Debra and I ventured out to Veselka, a Ukrainian restaurant that Debra and I ate at before we knew who Sofie was. Excellent food. I think I had a celebrity spotting. I'm about 99.9% sure that Chloƫ Sevigny sat next to us(for about 5 minutes, then she moved) at Veselka. She's currently in Big Love and was in Boys Don't Cry, among other cool movies. I would never go over to a celebrity, but I did stare...discreetly!! A very cool New York moment.

After a fine meal of pierogies, stroganoff and a raspberry blintz we headed towards the subway and made our way back to the hotel. (I'm glad I have a good internal sense of direction since the subway stop we were looking for was tucked away on a street that didn't exist from our originating point. I just went with my gut and we got there, no problemo!!)

After resting for a bit in the hotel, I headed towards Brooklyn to hang out with one of my college roommates, Bec. (Debra and Sofie went to see Mary Poppins on Broadway with tickets she'd gotten for free from the timeshare presentation) We seamlessly met in a Metro station and rode towards her neighborhood. We caught up a bit on the ride over and upon exiting the Metro station ran into a friend of hers. We chatted a bit, got a restaurant recommendation and the three of of walked down the street. Her friend left us as she walked to her barber and we continued on to Franny's, a somewhat upscale, yet not, Italian restaurant. We ate a wonderful meal outside, continued to chat about life as if we'd seen each other the day before. That's the quality of a good friend...even after not seeing them for awhile, you pick up as if you'd never been apart. It was a great evening just hanging out, catching up, seeing where she lived and declining a night out at the local lesbian bar! A HUGE "thanks" and a BIG hug to Bec for wonderful evening in her part of New York!

Tomorrow, Saturday, our friends Maya and Laurie arrive from Santa Cruz, CA and we'll all head over to the big boat! More entries later.