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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

giving thanks

Thanksgiving break was a muchly needed dose of family time- for us as our family of 4 and with each of our families.   We were on Beals for the Carver Thanksgiving Wednesday through Friday and there was lots of good quality time spent cooking together, laughing, and playing cards.
 
I learned how to play Rook and I was hooked.  The day after Thanksgiving, while all the children played happily upstairs, we all sat around and played Rook: me, Sandi, both her sisters and her parents.  We have never had a chance to do that before because one of us always had a crying child on our laps.  If you've never played, find someone to teach you. It is SO fun.
 
And of course, there was lots of eating.  If I were to be graded on my re-entry into eating I would get a D- at best.  When Sandi broke her fast a couple of days before me, she filled up on a tablespoon of sunflower seeds.  I sat down the evening of day 6 and ate some baked potato, aparagus, brussel sprouts and a lobster.  And then I had some ice cream later on.  I wasn't too full and it certainly didn't seem like I had not been eating.  I broke the fast like a marathoner busting the ribbon with her chest. 
 
The next two days I ate with the moderation of a sumo wrestler.  I was never really hungry and ate whenever I had the opportunity and/or I was no longer "too" full to fit more.  I'm not even sure that I ate way too much or if it was just too much for my body coming off the fast.  Either way, I wasn't very kind to my body in favor of one more sliver or pumpkin pie.  I'm not proud of it.  I'm just telling it like it was.  (I'm fasting again this week.  My blood will be drawn in 3 short weeks and I'm really hoping for an improvement despite last week's shenanigans.)
 
It was too beautiful to resist.
 
 
Patti puts on Thanksgiving dinner at night (for the fisherman and for those driving from far).  This year she had these electric warmers for all the veggies and that was a huge help in keeping everything from getting cold while you put it out.  Patti makes a meal that could fed 25 with the grace and calm of an experienced chef.  I all but take notes when I watch her unruffled manner and hope to have even a quarter of the poise she does.  I mean, she can make Thanksgiving dinner and take a break to color with Maya and make bead bracelets with Brevan.
 
As usual, clean-up consisted of dishing leftovers into pie crusts that get put in the freezer for the coveted pot pies.   

(Ella had done Sandi's hair for her in a braid. Isn't it beautiful?)


 
Brevan and Makenna came to spend the day with us Saturday while Kristi went on her annual Christmas shopping trip.  Sandi was gone studying so the kids and I kept busy with rollerskating, a Christmas movie, lots of games, a dance party and a very brave trip to the grocery store with 4 kids.  I'm pretty sure Hannaford should give out medals to deserving moms and if they did I would have been in the running for it that day.   Four kids and a busy store.  Phew. 
 
Favorite Makenna quotes from the day:  when she wanted to get out of the grocery cart and I told her no (after having just told Maya no) she stared me down and said, "My mom would let me get out."  I also couldn't get enough of hearing her sing/shout ALL day: "PIZZA! Said the lady with the alligator purse!" after Maya taught her the song.
 
Sandi came home in the late afternoon so we could do some Christmas decorating.  All day long the kids kept asking, "Is it time to decorate for Christmas?"  I adore this amount of holiday enthusiasm.


They were SO excited to put the snow on the village.


Lights stapled to the woodwork casting a cozy ambiance during the holiday season?  Yup, that's just how we do it.
 
We had four kids trying to unpack the breakable figurines.  They were holding up lights and asking us to plug them in.  Ella found a stuffed reindeer and immediately made it a house out of pillows on the couch.  There was paper everywhere and Celine Dion's high soprano was bringing in the holiday cheer on Pandora.  I had been alone with the kids for 8 hours.  Then Brev asked if he could have some paper and scissors to make snowflakes.  I really don't like to say no to kids wanting to be creative and soon bits of paper were also all over the floor. 
I poured myself a glass of wine and tries to surrender to the chaos.  The kids were amazing and I enjoyed my time with them so much.  And I fell into bed in a heap of exhaustion that night.
 

 The next day my family was coming for Thanksgiving.  My sister and I have a very workable, equitable thing going on around family get togethers.  For holidays we flip flop houses and we each take half the load so it is never too much for either of us.  When she comes to my house, or me to hers, we just grab a cutting board and get to work.  Often when my sister is in my kitchen, I will go to look for the peeler I was using and I can't find it because she has already washed it and put it away. 

Ella was very excited to help out with trifle which I copied from Ange's adaptation to make it into a pumpkin trifle.  I love the site that it came from because she has so many ideas for delicious, lighter food.  (To change, I basically added a can of pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice to the cream cheese layer and I dipped the Vienna fingers in cocoa instead of coffee.)

 
 
There is nothing like having your family sit around your table and using all the tin foil in your house to keep all the food you loving made as hot as possible.


The trifle was a big hit and everyone kept trying to get into it.

Brian, my favorite recent addition to our family.

 
It would be impossible for our girls to love their cousins more.


Maya and Braeden


Michaela and Ella
 Adopting the tradition from our Beals family, the post Thanksgiving meal on my side now also involves the making of the pot pies.  Toferky pot pie in our case.



Blueberry glaze pie for Kathryn's birthday.

 
This Thanksgiving I was resoundingly grateful for family.  Age has shown me how irreplaceable these bonds are.  We are so very blessed to have so much love and goodness in our lives within our families and the friends that are like family to us. 

And, despite the Tofery jokes, I wouldn't trade a one of them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

juiced

I am very pleased to tell you that I have done my juice fast for 5 days. 

I'm also somewhat shocked to report that I am a little bit sad for it to end.  I wouldn't have thought I would say that on Saturday night (day 2) when all I wanted was to sink my teeth into a squishy piece of warm pizza crust.  Or when I was slicing a knife through a creamy cheesecake and I could imagine exactly how it would feel in my eager mouth. 

Come to think of it day two was probably the hardest. I thought about giving it up because I was missing the eating festivities.  But then I thought how can you end a fast to eat pizza and cheesecake and feel good about it? I was super proud of myself as I slid the half eaten pieces of pizza and cheesecake (the criminality!) into the trash and reminded myself that I DID NOT HAVE TO EAT THEM and the world wouldn't end. 

Once I got all the food put away and the girls were asleep, I got a text from my friend Jen: there are chocolate peanut butter cupcakes on your back doorstep.  Oh no!!!  I wanted to shake my fist at the sky.  How much temptation do you think I can withstand?! 

For the record I adore Jen and I so appreciate that she was thinking of us.  And I did come to really laugh at the irony of the situation.  Once she remembered we were on the fast she suggested we put them in the freezer which I promptly did (after handling each delicious looking wonder and trying not to inhale their chocolaty fumes).   I also realized that on any other Saturday night where I am not exercising any self-control, I would have eaten the pizza, the homemade french fries, the cheesecake AND a cupcake and been full of remorse, regret and a touch of desperation.

I believe rehabilitation happens in those moments where you have to be extra strong and extra brave and withstand a mountain of temptation in the form of refined sugar and saturated fat. 

By day three I was feeling truly amazing. especially since I was aware of all I did NOT eat the night before and I have felt great since.  There have been some moments of tired, but honestly less than I have in my normal, non-fasting life.  Tomorrow will be day 6 and I plan to break the fast at dinner tomorrow so that I can adjust my stomach to eating before I sit down for Thanksgiving dinner. 

My blood sugars (I'm a type I diabetic) had been very erratic in the week prior to my fast and they have completely stabilized.  I am not due for a thyroid check for another few weeks and I plan to build in some days of juice fasting into the holiday season/pre-endocronologist appointment date.

Some people have asked questions so here are some answers plus some interesting observations:

-If I'm going to be away from the house (I went to my sister's for the day Sunday), I juice and take it with me in a cooler.  Juice is optimal when freshly made but, hey, later is better than never in my book.

- I've been drinking water like crazy and I don't pee as much as I would if I drank the same amount while eating. I have no idea how this works but it is kind of cool.

-I drink fresh lemon and cayenne with hot water instead of tea or coffee and it is strangely comforting and satisfying. 

-I am totally digging the not having to think about food or if I'm eating too much of this or too little of that.

-I am hungry sometimes, but it has lessened as the days have gone on and I find that I am more comfortable being hungry than I usually am.

-Fasting on Saturday, which was a stimulating and parentally-draining kind of day, I definitely felt edgy with no buffer between me and the world.  It was very enlightening to witness how many moments I had the urge to grab something to eat in a moment of stress or tension.

-The fast has gotten easier each day.  I guess it is just like any habit.

- Yes, cleaning all 6 individual parts of the juicer are kind of a pain in the ass but I'm not really exercising so I have more time than usual so no big deal.

-I have lost 7 pounds.

-I went to the YES on 1 celebration party (the official one put on by Equality Maine) and did not partake in the drinking or the appetizers. I drank water and focused instead on the really cool people there and guess what?  It was still fun plus I didn't have to come home and lament about the chips I'd eaten.

-I drink juice 4-6 times a day depending on how hungry I am or how many ounces each batch is.  Usually I drink about 16 oz of juice at a time.

-I went to the gym on Monday and definitely felt depleted and like I was kind of dragging myself around. Other than that my energy level is great.

-I am scared to start eating again.   There I've said it.  I worry a little that I still can't be trusted to be good to my body.

Here is a typical veggie juice we've been making: carrots, kale, tomato, fennel, Brussels sprouts, mini-peppers, a lemon, ginger and butternut squash.  A bowlful of nutrition. 

There are so many delicious fruit combos.  This morning I had pears, apples, oranges and lime for breakfast. 

Here's a great recipe from reboot your life.

  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1 orange, peel removed
  • 1 organic apple
  • 1 cup butternut squash (Australian butternut pumpkin), cubed
  • 4-6 leaves collard greens (Australian cabbage leaves) about 1 cup, packed

  • I used kale for the greens.  Juice push it all through a juicer, drink and listen for the faint sound of your cells singing the Hallelujah chorus.

    I've tried to tally up how much the juice fast has cost us and I came up with about $12/day.  That is buying the bulk of the produce at Walmart (not my ideal) and largely not organic.  I bought all organic carrots, some of the apples and I bought a bunch of local squash from a farm stand.   That is really not that expensive considering the massive health benefits of juicing. 

    I honestly feel so good right now that I am truly curious why I would ever let anything other than vitality-enhancing food cross my lips.  Why would I ever let my desire for taste override my natural wisdom of what feeds me?  I'm starting to understand that there are two facets of healthy eating:  what you eat and how you eat.  I was flunking at both.  I'm hoping that this fast is the start of a paradigm shift in me so I can release the push/pull with food and consistently want to make choices that support me, instead of shred me.  It is my hope that the scale has shifted and want for the good will overpower my lifelong craving for the bad.

    Tomorrow we got to Beals Island and I work doing massage all day and then we stay for Thanksgiving.  I will juice in the morning for the day and then eat dinner.  Rumor has it that we are having lobster.  Ever heard of breaking a fast with lobster?  No, me either.

    Saturday, November 17, 2012

    reboot

    There have been a culmination of events in my life that have prompted me to reexamine my daily habits with my body and how I eat.

    First of all, the election has taken quite a hit on me.  I feel like I am in a hole that I am trying to dig myself out of.  I haven't had my usual motivation and stamina.  I mostly want to sit on the couch.  My heart still hurts on a daily basis.  I am trying to put the pieces of life back together and it hasn't come easily.  The way I have been feeling is the way I would expect to feel if we had lost the vote so this brokenness has been surprising.

    Then I got a cold.  And my doctor called me and told me that my thyroid levels are climbing again and I need more medication and an appointment with her next month to discuss more "permanent" solutions to this problem.  The only two solutions I know about are taking radioactive iodine to knock back an overactive thyroid (the taking of which means you can't be around kids for 5 days not to mention the other ramifications of putting a radioactive substance in your body) and surgical removal of the thyroid (which makes you hypothyroid for the rest of you life). 

    Add to all of this that Sandi and I finally watched the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead this week and the wheels started turning. 

    The documentary is about this man who decides that if he doesn't make some changes to his diet he will probably die soon.  At 309 pounds,  grappling with a very painful autoimmune skin disease for which he takes heavy daily doses of steroids and having a diet of poor nutrition and excess,  he does something radical.  He goes on a 60 day juice fast.  He travels all over the U.S. talking to people about their diets and their health, all the while juicing kale, apples, carrots and the like in the back of his car by a battery powered juicer. 

    How can you not take an immediate shine to someone who has a battery powered juicer in his trunk?

    I understand the health crisis that our country is in specific to obesity.  After all, that is why I was such an advocate for reducing the amount of chocolate milk being served to kids in our school.  But to hear some of these interviews where people would say, "Because of my size and what I eat I will probably only live to be 50-55, but hey, at least I will die eating what I love." 

    This man, Joe (who closely followed medically) ends up losing 72 pounds in 60 days.  He says the fast was hard but the real difficulty came when returned to healthy eating.  He adopted a plant based diet and dropped 90 pounds total.  He also convinces another man with the same autoimmune condition, to try a juice cleanse.  At 429 pounds, Phil also does a 60 day juice cleanse followed by a diet overhaul and ends up losing 202 pounds.  Both men no longer need the powerful, potentially dangerous medications they once took and they have inspired thousands of people to "reboot" their bodies through juice fasts.

    After watching the documentary and witnessing the transformation of these men, I was truly inspired to see if a juice fast could help me.

    The idea of the juice fast is to ingest the micronutrients found in fruits and vegetables in a highly usable, nutrition packed juice.  This isn't meant to be bottled juice but fresh juice made at home from fresh fruits and vegetables.  It is a fast in that it gives your body a break from digestion and cleanses the tract completely.

    Think of it like resting a machine that has been running nonstop and deserves a break. 

    Sandi has always been into juicing.  And I was years back when I did a healing diet to help cure myself from a horrendous case of uclerative colitis I developed while pregnant with Ella.  I would say we are very healthy eaters who imbibe in coffee, alcohol, chocolate, etc on occasion (or daily).  For us a juice fast isn't a detox from pepperoni pizza, Slim Jim's and cheese doodles.  But it is an opportunity to wipe our physical slates clean.  It is also a way to bombard your body, especially at the cellular level, with staggering amounts of health and nutrition.

    It is this dramatic increase in micronutrients that can allow the body to heal itself from all sorts of things, especially inflammation.  Who knows?  Maybe even hyperthyroidism. 

    Sandi and I are doing the fast together which makes everything 100 times easier.  I am starting out with a 3 day fast with the hopes to extend it to 6 if I feel good.  This would bring me up to Thanksgiving where I would need to break the fast in a slow, thoughtful manner.  Since Thanksgiving is touted at the largest meal of the year, perhaps this is a blessing. 

    We went to the store and bought more fruits and vegetables than I have ever purchased at one time:

    (not shown: about 20 more pounds of carrots, melons, a pineapple  and several more bags of apples and tangerines.)
     Was it expensive?  Sure. But you know what else is?  Being sick.

    There are some other reasons that I want to fast. I am craving the presence and intention around eating that I have been unable to find as of late. Feeling good about what I eat has been a lifelong challenge for me.  Sometimes it is easy to eat what I enjoy, feel good and like my body and other times I turn to food in times of stress and consquently struggle with my weight.

    In the recent months eating has become somewhat of a push pull situation for me where I am avoiding certain foods to help me lose the erratic thyroid level induced 10 pounds I put on (I tell you a high thyroid level will make you want to eat everything not nailed to the floor), only to then find myself eating them to excess days later. I've felt a bit slaved to my own desires for non-nutritional food and was feeling sluggish and less than vital in my body. I was not enjoying food, marveling over its texture and flavor, but rather eating things before I really knew I was doing it and then feeling guilty after.  I was the cliched mother finishing her children's uneaten PBJ.  I no longer heard my body's saiety signals, or if I did I blatantly ignored them. 

    Ever have your pants be a little tight and still be hunting for something to eat an hour after supper?  It's no fun.

    This fast is a way for me to hit the pause button, gastrointestinal and otherwise. People have done spritual fasts for thousands of years.  This is a way for me to pare down the drama I've created around food and intentionally rebuild a more functional, less guilty, more fulfilling way of eating. 

    Doing a fast together has been a wonderfully connecting experience for Sandi and I.  We have been the proverbial ships passing in the night lately and have very little quality time together.  Planning for and preparing juice (4-6 times a day) has been really enjoyable. 

    My favorite juice so far:  ripe pears, granny smith apples, fresh mint, grapes, a whole lime (peel and all) and fresh pineapple.   I almost felt like I could be drinking a pina colada.  (I know, missing the point entirely.)
     We also made this surprising recipe we found here. We juiced  butternut squash and apples, poured it over ice and sprinkled it with cinnamon.  Yum.  A large part of being successful, I think, is having variety. There are lots of juice recipes to choose from out there and it has been fun to try all these different combinations. Tonight we will do a juice that is cranberries, oranges, apples, squash and greens. 

    I'm more than halfway done with day two as of right now.  Mostly I have been in the groove and happy to be doing it.  I have definitely seen the patterns of when I reach for food.  Yes I am legitamately hunger some of the time (but not starving), but other times things are crazy and one child or the other is crying and I want to find peace in a bag of chocolate chips.  I think (hope) breakthroughs happen when you want to do that but don't. 
     
    Yet...today is Ella's birthday and the house is full of Smartfood popcorn, homemade pizza and cheesecake (her favorites).  Making cheesecake while fasting is a tiny bit cruel.  So will it be when there is pizza crust left over tonight (my favorite).  I had a particularly low moment while I was dolling out snacks where I thought, maybe this has been long enough.... But the good thing is that I have enough wisdom to know that if you want to break a fast early for dessert, you're probably not rehabilitated.

    I thought, I could just erase that blog post I've been working all day on.  No one need know if I break the fast for refined sugar and carbohydrate.  And here I stand where I have stood before, in the moment where I tell myself it doesn't really matter if I eat x, y or z, I deserve to not feel deprived and I can do better tomorrow.  But guess what?  It does matter.  Because after enough days, weeks, months, years of waiting for tomorrow to break the habit, tomorrow never comes. 

    Today I am choosing my health and the intentional kind treatment of my body.  When I lay my head on my pillow tonight I want to feel proud of myself, not sick and frustrated from an indulgence that takes me away from well-being. 

    In other words, I don't really have any business eating cheesecake until eating it or not eating it isn't that important and when a sliver will feel like enough.

    And yes, I pray that with tons of internal work, that day will come.

    happy gay day

    I have the best kind of friends. The kind that decide there needs to be a celebratory flash mob dance when there is a landmark victory at the polls.  Or at the very least a party. 

    Last Saturday night at Paddy Muphy's, there was a party.  (We were going to dance but apparently it wouldn't have caused  a crisis of faith in the building construction for the diners below if there had been dancers on the second floor of this historic building.)


     
    Ange and Emilie made this amazing out and proud cake.  We sang "happy gay day to you." It was awesome. 
    (I love the expressions in this photo.)
     
     
    And this baby isn't just beautiful.  It has sweet potato cooked into the cake.  And frosted with lemon buttercream.  Everyone deserves to have friends, and cake, like this.   
     

    As people started to leave and the bar tenders weren't so occupied, the kids sidled up to the bar stools and got a little lesson in taps.   All that was missing was Billy Joel singing, "The Piano Man" and the scene would have been complete.

     

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    Girl's birthday party 2012 (a.k.a. doing it right)

    Often in life if you don't get a lesson it repeats itself. 
     
    I am not proud to say that there are many lessons I have had loop back around a ridiculous number of times. 
     
    Shortcuts often make things longer in the end.  Don't hire too-good-to-be-true people to work on your house because they usually are, in fact, too good to be true.  If you get an inkling to put air in your tires,  heed this warning or you will end up with a flat.  Eating too much at a party doesn't make you feel festive and light, it makes you feel swollen and fat. 
     
    The list goes on and on.
     
    Our girls' birthdays are only 3 weeks apart.  In the past we have done joint parties for them, but last year, in the interest of allowing them to be separate people, we threw them each the party of their choice.  Maya's was at the gymnastics place ($150 plus favors) and Ella's was at the roller rink ($175 plus favors) which was so congested with people that I needed to be medicated and Ella didn't even really enjoy it. 
     
    We left saying, never again.
     
    So this year, we decided to throw one joint family party at our house for the girls in between their birthdays and let them do something special on their actual birthday.  As it turns out, our family is growing (both in number and our kids are getting physically bigger) and our house is not.  We simply can't fit the same number of eight-year-olds as we could three-year-olds.  Also, with Sandi in school for another year, we simply aren't in the position to spend that kind of money on birthday parties. 
     
    We've come to learn that for our kids, less if definitely more. If they are surrounded by all their friends and family at once, it is too overwhelming for them and they don't have a good time.
     
    Saturday, we celebrated the girls' birthdays with Skyler and Reed by going rollerskating (free) and coming back to our house to make ice cream sundaes and play (nearly free).  It was perfect two on two time for the kids.   I didn't really get a great picture but you get the idea. 
     

    For the girls' party, we kept things very simple. Snacks, drinks, cake. No favors. Sandi set the bounce house up in our bedroom (the small 6 kid bounce house Patti and Dwight got for the kids a few years ago) with their choice of music. It was a very relaxed feel downstairs with the adults able to visit and the kids running in and out.
     
    Ella's dreams had come when her grandparents bought her McKenna the American Girl doll for her birthday.  Kristi bought her the matching outfit and it is a match made in heaven. 
     
    (McKenna herself is becoming somewhat of a problem for me, though.  She is interfering with everything from getting out of the house on time to finding a place to sit during family things.  She is very picky about how her hair is fixed and each day she must be changed from her pjs into an outfit and back to pjs at night.  It is as though she doesn't realize that we actually need Ella to participate in the rest of life despite McKenna's arrival into our family.  And the other night she INSISTED I put her hair in a waterfall braid so we could go out.  The nerve....)
     
     
     
     
    Ella was thrilled to get a bunch of accessories for McKenna.

    
    Noah's gifts came addressed to them in braille.  Maya was quite proud of that.

    
    Hello Kitty Uno.  Need I say more?

    This year for the girls' cake, I went with the fairy theme in a different way. I conjured this idea up in my head one day and somehow made it happen.  I'm still not entirely sure how.  The only bummer is it was supposed to have 3 more fairies but they got lost in Amazon transit and will probably show up tomorrow.
     
     The tower is actually a jug of protein shake powder wrapped in foil and then frosted.  And I will go on record saying that I am very proud of the construction of the toothpick fairy bridge. It was a rare example of something coming out as I had planned it in my head.



    I am definitely proud of how far my cake making has grown in a year, but there are still so many little imperfections I keep wanting to master.  But the girls literally squealed in delight when they saw it and that makes it all worth it.

    Trish and Brock snuggling with Hello Kitty.

    
    cousins
     Sandi hauled at the tripod and the remote control photo taker (I'm sure it has a more glamorous name than that) and finally we got a picture of the girls together.

    And then some of the four of us.
     This is a fair representation of our family right here:
     

    Love my girls.  All three. Lucky us.

    Friday, November 9, 2012

    I promise they called us

    I'm not sure how, but people still are interested in hearing what we have to say on the issue of marriage in our state.  I would think by now people would want to put cotton balls in their ears when they see us approach, but Erin Rhoda from the Bangor Daily News called yesterday to ask if she could interview the girls.  She said there had been a lot said by adults on the issue and she wondered what the kids would have to say about it.  Today, she wrote this editorial

    I thought it was really cool that someone cared to talk to our kids about what they think of the vote.  After all, they are on the front line.  They donated their own time, Ella donated $5 of her own money and they donated their mother to make this happen.

    What do they have to say?  It's all about love.

    Thursday, November 8, 2012

    THE WIN

    There is no way to be brief here so I won't even make an attempt.

    I had been preparing for election day in the same fashion I would guess Christopher Columbus did as he sailed West toward what he assumed to be the edge of the world.   I couldn't really picture the world after the polls closed and we awaited the outcome.  I couldn't picture winning and I couldn't envision losing. Clients were calling to schedule massage later in the week and I felt like responding with, "But wait that is after the election. I can't possibly do massage. Who knows what the world will look like Thursday." 

    That life would go on after the vote seemed inevitable, just not really imaginable.

    Election day dawned bright and cold.  A very reluctant Sandi went to the hospital, her heart wanting to be home with our family.  My friend Ashley came in with big hugs when she dropped her girls off for me to take to school.  They had each made me a picture to cheer me up. 

    Before school we headed to the polls where all 5 of us attempted to crowd into a polling booth.  I showed them the ballot and did some teaching about how to vote.  I showed them question 1.  (They thought is was totally unfair that they couldn't vote and really, perhaps the world would be a friendlier place if citizens under 10 had more of a say.) I had split them up into 2 teams before we went in (one twin with each of my girls) so that each team could put a ballot in the sucker machine. 

    As we approached a voting official who appeared to be about 95-years-old she grouched, "They can't do that.  You have to do that.  We can't take any chances."

    My kids have slid the ballot into the sucker machine each and every year.  I take a lot of pride in teaching my kids to vote.  For them, the sucker machine is the main attraction of the whole practice.

    Then another woman with a kind smile whispered to me, "It's okay Suzanne.  The kids can do it.  And by the way, thanks for Saturday."  Wink, wink.

    Flash mob Saturday?

    I did not know this woman.  I said to her, "Where you there?" 

    She replied, "I danced and it was amazing.  Thank you so much."

    So far, election day was off to a good start.

    After dropping the big girls, Maya and I headed to YES on 1 to meet Ange, Anna and Beckett to do some canvassing.  We were assigned to Hampden (where we live) so we got some coffee, started doling out the snacks and hit the streets. 
    
    How could you say no to these two?
    We spent a few hours knocking on 26 doors and asking people to go vote.  The idea is to target our supporters to get them to polls.  I had a conversation with one woman who said her only motivation for voting was to vote yes on 1 but that she was busy and didn't know if she would be able to get there.  After telling her how important the issue was to me personally and why her vote counted, I convinced her to go.  Which is the whole point of canvassing.

    I spent the afternoon trying to keep myself calm while drinking lots of coffee.  Messages of love and support were pouring in from people.  One of my favorites was from my new friend Heather who I have to come to love and adore through this campaign.  She wrote to me, "I knew we would be friends when I saw you come to school pick-up dressed like ice cream sandwich." 

    We had given a lot of thought to where to spend election night. In the end we knew we wanted to be with family, with our kids and with the people we had campaigned with all summer- the people of Washington County.  When Sandi got home from work, we headed downeast to the election watch party Aunt Suzie had organized.  Not only would the place have a projection screen of the results but there was also a DJ and a dance floor.   I was sold.  We got there around 7 and I spent the next many  hours drinking wine and dancing.  It was a perfect cure for my restlessness.

    My friend Melissa made this amazing cake for the party:
    (photos of the party by Danielle Nelson, Wendy Dyer and me)

    Aunt Suzie, Uncle Buck and Noah had decorated the place with all the parade signs and rainbow banners.  It was a celebration of color and joy and a reminder of what we had worked so hard for.  (And they, for the record, have done nothing except work hard for this cause.)





    Noah commandearing the microphone to tell jokes.



    Our friend Katie's grandparents, who appeared in an incredibly touching ad , were there to celebrate.
     And back by popular demand, not once but three times, the flash mob dance.  Even people who had never done it got on the floor to participate.



    
    There was even a rainbow pinata.

    Silly family pic




     
    The girls went home to Beals with Sandi's parents around 10 and we stayed to watch the results.  I felt my anxiety level rise as the first precints reported in.  By 11:15, with California polls closed for a mere 15 minutes, they had projected Obama as the winner and we still didn't hear about question one.  (As Trish noted, "I'm Sexy and I Know It" was the song playing when Obama was reelected along with our hopes of federal marriage rights.)
     
    With 40% of precints reporting, the YES vote was at about 53%. 
     
    In 2009 we had an early lead which steadily declined until we lost.  I was not cheered by the lead this time and just wanted to dance and be unaware until it was over.  But mere minutes later, Mainer's United called the vote and said we had won.  Apparently once Portland reported in with even stronger numbers than expected, they knew they couldn't lose.   But we didn't fully understand this, or maybe it was the wine clouding my comprehension, but when people kept shouting, "WE WON!""  I kept thinking,  it's not real.
     
     We danced, we laughed, we hugged, we danced some more and hugged some more, then we cleaned up.  All the while I thought, they are going to call and say there has been some mistake


    
    Brad and Norm when they heard we won
     I didn't cry.  I found it hard to rejoice or relax.  Sandi, Trish and I drove back to Beals at 1 A.M and I was still stunned.  We spent most of the next day with Sandi's family, processing the outcome and just enjoying being together.  And yet I remained shell shocked. 

    After two entire days since the result and a lot of talking, I have finally figured out what is going on with me.  I am happy.  Of course I am.  But it is a bittersweet victory.  As Trish said when she wrote about this vote weeks ago, it isn't as though all the emotions that are stirred up just disappear when the results are announced. 

    Not to be negative, but it is true that 47% of this state didn't want us to have equal rights.  A portion of that 47% actually thinks that who we are is fundamentally wrong.  They think our kids are being harmed growing up with us as their parents.  Another portion of that 47% might like us as neighbors, co-workers or even friends, yet they also think we would compromise the insitution of marriage and make it less sacred or special.  We live among this 47%.  They are the people whose yards held the signs that spoke out against us.  They are the people giving us the cold shoulder at school.  They are those that we must continue to work alongside and try to forgive.

    In 2009 Washington County had only 35% of the pro same-sex marriage vote.  Aunt Suzie and Uncle Buck wanted to make that number different.  This time around Washington County had a 40.9% Yes vote.  That is significant and gratifying. Yet, when we were heading home yesterday and I stopped for gas, I couldn't help but look at the people around me and think: most of you here think I am less than you.

    Now this isn't my usual take on things and it is bothering me a bit that I feel this way, yet it also makes perfect sense.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars, countless volunteer hours, devoted phone bankers and canvassers all went into making something happen that shouldn't have had to have happen in the first place.

    It's awesome that we won our civil rights.  And so sucky that we had to fight for them in the first place.  Both Sandi and I find ourselves kind of heart broken that we live in a country where equality isn't a given but neccessitates a fight.

    In looking at the election results, I was very interested to do some calculations to find out approximately how many people abstained.  In Maine, 706,300 people voted.  Yet there were only 702,345 votes cast on question one.  That means that roughly 3,955 people abstained from voting on question one.  I think this is a major victory.  Also, 36,293 more people voted YES on 1 than NO.  That number does cheer me.

    Looking back over the campaign, I'm so proud of all that our friends and family did to support us and take this on as their own. I've been so impressed by the strong voices of straight people who have stood up for this cause. 

    I take great joy and pride in the pictures of our summer. Without these people, we couldn't have done what we did.  (My sister and her family are not pictured here because they couldn't make it to any of the parades but their unwavering support has been steadfast and necessary.)


    
    Family

    
    Katie and Alex


    





    Beth Allen, campaign leader extraordinaire with her partner Val and their daughter, Oakley. This family's sacrafices on behalf of making this happen is astrounding to me. I have such great admiration and appreciation for all they gave up for the rest of us.

     

    


    


    
    

    
    Kelly, Kane and Tracy.  My new loves of the summer.

    
    Beautiful

     


    
    Ange, Brady and Anna

    
    LOVE.

    
    Robbi and Chris (you two ROCK)

    
    Trish

    
    
    my mom (who argued with a Canadian over the details of their national health insurance plan, but that's a story for another time.)
     
     
    While I suppose it is remotely possible that Maine could have passed question one without the help of these three, there is no doubt in my mind that it was because of them that so many of the lost and broken hearted gay people of rural Maine were able to survive the campaign.  Their unending enthusiasm, passion, presence, kindness, class, vision, inclusion and LOVE fueled us and gave us the energy to finish strong.  As they said many times, "It isn't just that you win, but how you win."  They did it right and much can be learned from their example.  I am beyond proud to call them my family.
     


    But in the end, it always comes back to these two.  They make the fight worth it.  They live and breath love because they know no other way.


     




































    And us two, naturally.



    We won.  I guess it's true. No one has called to say it is any different.

    I do feel like I am nursing a broken heart in a way. I have a lot of forgiving to do to those I know who voted against us. I have to figure out a way to let winning be enough and move forward with love. 

    My Facebook page and email box were inundated the day after the vote.  One woman, a sister of a friend wrote this amazing thing to me:

    "I want thank you for your hard work on the campaign. Your passion truly was contagious and inspiring (even just watching via blogs and facebook). Remember reading in school about the key grassroots players in each of the civil rights movements? I truly believe that your work should make the history books!Congrats and happy wedding planning!"

    No, we have no wedding plans.  We had braced ourselves to lose and never made any actual plans.  Plus there's the small bit about having no real income for another year that puts a damper on the party plans.  But you all know us now and you know that it was never about having a wedding.  We fought for equality, for rights, for the freedom to be in this state.  We fought for the community where our kids are growing up to be one of inclusion. 

    I am proud of Maine.  I have felt lost here since 2009, like a balloon whose string has slipped out of a child's fist.  But now I feel like I have come home.   Thank you Maine.  If you voted YES or you supported from afar, thank you. 

    I still haven't had a good, post-election cry but it will probably happen in a day or two when the dishwasher door gets jammed or the coffee burns in the pot.

    Thank you Sandi for standing by my side and always reminding me why it was worth it.  I love you just as much today as I did on Monday when we didn't have the right to marry.  Because marriage has never, and will never, define us. 

    It has always been, and always will be, about love.  That is who we are.