Maybe we need to have “the talk” earlier


Friends invited us over to a little dinner party on their back porch last weekend.  We like visiting them as they have a nearly three-year-old as well.  M and Little Elephant are fabulous friends and school classmates.  He is the sweetest boy who has relentlessly pursued her friendship, hugging, holding hands, and sharing his beloved cars for more than two years.  Note: the first toy Little Elephant. slept with was one of his cars!

As she stood by my plate picking at food, M meandered over and announced he wanted to show her something.  He then boldly put his hand out, confident that she would take it, following his lead.  She did (after eating one last olive— the girl loves her olives).  Curious, I followed them into the house.

“This is the kitchen,” he announced.

“This is the hall,” he explained.

That is where I go pee-pee,” he squeeled as she pulled him away.  Afraid she hadn’t heard, he announced it again. Louder.


Having finished the tour of downstairs, M invited my daughter up to his room to see the trains.  Hand-in-hand, they climbed the stairs.

I decided to leave them alone and ventured back to the adults.  I told the story of how cute the tour was and everyone giggled at the “I pee there” reference.  I asked M’s Dad if I should be worried about them alone upstairs and if I should check on them.  “Clare,” he responded in a playful voice, “I don’t think we have to worry about that until they are teenagers.  Then we won’t let him take her up to the room for alone time.  For now, they are just playing with trains!”

Everyone giggled (including me).

But, the worrywart in me took over, so I went to check on them.   I just wanted to be sure they weren’t playing with plastic bags or getting into the medicine cabinet.   They weren’t.  They were fine.  In fact, they were hugging and giggling and rolling around on the floor together so much that they didn’t notice me come in, take pictures, and leave.  I now have photographic evidence that we might need to have the birds and the bees talk a little earlier than planned.  Although, not yet.  Afterall, they are only three.

Happy 3rd Birthday

All Rights Reserved Clare Says

All Rights Reserved
Clare Says

Dear Little Elephant,

Today, you turned three years old!  I can’t believe how fast the time has gone, how big your have gotten, how much you make me laugh, and how proud I am to be your Mommy.  I can only hope to watch you reach 103!

You love graham crackers.  This is unfortunate, as they are hard to find overseas.  Luckily, we know where to find the supply locally and when they get in a shipment, I buy multiple boxes.  Then, I take the boxes to my office and bring them home only one at a time (you still haven’t figured out this trick, but I am sure you will soon— you really are too smart for your own good).  The office trick is necessary as otherwise you would just sit in one place until all crackers from all boxes were in your belly.  Anyway, the other day Liza told you that “Mommy said we can only have 1 graham cracker”.  You thought about it and replied “No Liza.  I can have as many as I want.  You just need to tell Mommy that I only ate one.”  Ahh, little dickens you are— but your deception did not work.  And, worst of all, Liza made you fess up!

We went to buy flowers for Matthew’s Mommy today.  Between the two flower stands, a bit back, is a place the sells ice cream.  I have never pointed this out before, but today you noticed.  “Daddy, you whispered to him, I think I need to go look at something over there.”  Luckily, he figured it out to and distracted you.  We may have to not visit the flower shops for a while.

You still love going to school.  Your new goal is to get their first.  So, you wake up at 5 instead of 7.  Unfortunately, this plan often backfires because Mommy is so tired by the time school runs around, that we can’t get moving.  School doesn’t open til 8, I tell you over and over like a broken record, but unfettered you explain “but Mommy, I need to be first”.

This is not the only time you fight sleep.  Funny, now you have started to repeat back to me the things I say as I plead for your to sleep.  For example, when in bed, if you have to go potty again, you emphatically tell me: “Last time Mommy.  Just 1 last time I need to use the potty.  Then, I will not make you sick.”  When I ask for clarification about the sick part, you tell me, “Yes, I will not make you sick.  We need to sleep to be healthy.  I will not make you sick. One last time to the potty.”

The school had an end of the year show.  Despite only attending part time, you made sure you knew each of the words.  You would sit on the potty and practice “ooly gooly had a worm…”  On the day of the show, you recited “Roses are red. Violets are blue. Sugar is sweet. And so are you.”  Despite the microphone, I couldn’t hear a word.  You did happily recite it later that afternoon for Liza though.  On the other hand, in the middle of a song, you glanced up and noticed the flower decorations hanging from the ceiling.  Louder than the other 8 kids singing together, you shouted “Mommy! There are FLOWERS hanging from the ceiling! Mommy! Did you see the flowers?”.  You repeated that over and over, while Miss Jenny tried to hush you and I tried to contain my laughter.  You joy is infections.  You now take “Three little kittens who lost their mittens” and change the word mitten for whatever you can’t find (socks, truck, shoes) to let me know that something is missing.

We had a joint birthday party with a neighbor yesterday (more posts on that later this week).  A friend from down the block came.  She has three little ones: 8 years old, 5 years old and 1 year old. When she said that Little Elephant was turn 3, the 8 year old responded “No way! I thought she was older.  She sure is smart and talk a lot!”  See?  Verdict is out and I am not the only one who thinks that L.E. is one smart cookie!

Every morning, when we get up, you say: “Mama, are you staying all day with me?”  If no, you respond, “Okay.  Liza can stay all day with me.  Then you will come home.” Yes, dear, I always will!  When I leave for work, you shout, “I love you sweet Mama” after the car.  And, when we go to sleep at night, you whisper, “Mama, do you know I love you?”  And I do.  Plus, I love you right back and a thousand times over.

Hugs and kisses to my dynamic daughter.  Good luck for this next year.  I can’t wait to explore it with you!



Kind of like a birthday


I came home from work today and had one hour to play with my daughter before being picked up for the celebration of the National Day of Sweden.  After playing outside a bit, I announced I was going upstairs to change.  Then, this happened:

Little Elephant: Mommy, why are you changing?

Me: Well, honey, I am just changing clothes because Mommy needs to go out for a work event.

Little Elephant: Why work having an event?

Me: Actually, its my friend’s work that is having the event.  I am just going.

Little Elephant: But, what IS it?

Me: Well, I am going to the National Museum to celebrate Sweden’s National Day.

Little Elephant: What’s that?

Me: Each country had a day that it celebrates its independence.  Like, in the US we have the 4th of July.  In Chile, they have the 18th of September.  In Sweden, they have the 6th of June.

Little Elephant: So… you going to birthday party.

Me: Yes.  I guess you are right.  It is like a country’s birthday party.

Little Elephant: My Daddy has a country.

Me: He does!  Do you know which one?

Little Elephant: Chile!

Me: Very good!  And do you know when Chile’s independence is?

Little Elephant: Yes.

Me: When?

Little Elephant: Mmmm…. Friday.

Me: Hmm. I guess sometimes it is on Friday.  It is the 18th of September,

Little Elephant: Oh.  Do you get birthday cake?


My best reason


2014familyday403 The thing about having a kids is, she becomes the center of your universe and, ultimately, the reason you make the choices you make.  Or, at least, for me, this is the case.

Why do I live in Albania?  Because it was the best place for her.  Short commute equals more Mommy time.  Country without Malaria means no meds.  Place that is super child friendly equates to less boundaries, visits to fancy restaurants, and abundant kisses and candies from strangers.

Why do we no longer have a house full of sweets? Because I am trying to model healthy eating habits despite what my sweat tooth says.

Where do we spend summer vacation?  With family.  Yes, there are tons of places that I would love to visit.  Montenegro is so close and, yet, I travel home to snow and cold so that she can build a relationship with her grandparents and cousins.

How do I spend my freetime?  Sometimes on me, because that makes me a better Mom.  But, more often than not, I end up looking up fun activities or recipes she can help with.  I research school choices and safe play toys.  I plan and replan birthday parties and rainy afternoon activities.

What was the last book I read?  Brown bear, Brown bear.  It was the millionth time this week— but it makes her smile and giggle so strong her entire body shakes.  I would read it a million times more just to continue to illicit that joy.

Why do I come out?  Because I want to build a world where it doesn’t matter what people’s sexuality or gender identities are, because we value them for who they are, what they believe, and how they act.  I react based on how they make us feel.  Because I want a safe place for my daughter to grow and explore.  So that I can model good behavior and no pass down any residual internalized homophobia that I may harbor.  I come out regularly because I want her to know that you don’t have to be invisible.

She is nearly three and I don’t know who she will become…. but I do want her to know that whoever that person is, her Mommy will love her.  Always.

*** *** *** Today is Blogging for LGBT Families Day, an annual event sponsored by Mombian. Check out all the entries from this year! Here are my entries from other years:

  • Suddenly the World Seems Like Such a Perfect Place (2013): “Love isn’t what Hollywood sells us.  It isn’t just grand gestures.  And song.  (Well, maybe sometimes it is, if you are lucky).  It also isn’t always tragic or fated.  Love, the kind of love that grows families, is in the small things.  It is the everyday things.  It is getting up in the morning to make coffee because your partner has to.  It is letting go of a bit of yourself to be there for the other.  It is reminding the other who they are and supporting them in that.  It is having the same interests.  Laughing at little inside jokes even when they are no longer funny.  Sharing values and night time diaper changes.   It is feeling comfortable and safe.  It is being safe.”
  • Families by Choice (2011): “I sit writing this, waiting for the arrival of my daughter. As a bisexual woman married to a man, I worry about educating my child. I worry how to create a home environment that is safe, a place where she can grow up without shame, knowing who she is and who her family is. I worry about the best ways to help her grow in a bilingual, biracial household– especially when that is located in a third culture. I ponder how my messages can be stronger than societies. I worry about everyday stuff and big picture stuff.”
  • Because of a Little Piece of Paper (2010): ”So often I feel this unearned privilege of having married a man thrown in my face. What if S had been a woman? My life partner very easily could have been a woman. And what protections would she have been given? The unfairness of it all burns. And, you think I exaggerate, but writing this, my eyes are welling with tears.”
  • Blogging for LGBT Families (2007): “Karen Atala, a Chilean judge with three children, had her children taken away from her by the courts in 2004 when she moved in with her partner. The courts granted custody to the father, he ex-husband. Ms. Atala, being a lawyer and judge herself, appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Chile which ruled on the basis that, “[the children] would suffer psychological harm living with Ms. Atala and her partner…[and that] they would become confused about gender roles and suffer from discrimination and isolation.” The court then nullified all her rights as a mother and gave permanent and total custody to the girl’s father forever. She is still fighting, now on an international front, to have her children returned to her.”

Don’t forget to check out other posts for 2014 Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day.

Taken from my car


Photo taken from my car in Durres today

Albania seems totally normal… And them some guy walks his bear down the street.

Admittedly, this was first a facebook status update… but how could I not blog about it.  Heartbreaking to think about, but in the moment, I was just very very confused.