Sunday, December 29, 2013

Vacation Interlude

We live in India, but we're not unaware of the things going on in the US on social media and the discussion (not sure that it's really a discussion so much as people yelling at each other on Facebook) that's taking place surrounding reality television and the LGBT community.

Here are a few thoughts:

1. The freedoms of speech and religion are not in jeopardy in the USA. Lets stop--rather hysterically--pretending that they are. Last time I checked, the government didn't have anything to do with anyone being censored. Recently, a reality television star made several prejudicial statements about gay people. Those statements were not in keeping with the values of the network that airs his reality television show, so they temporarily suspended him from the show. Most of us who are employed by a company have contracts that also limit the things we say in the public arena. If I were to make disparaging comments in a public arena, I would also, most likely, loose my job. Yes, you have the right to say most of what you want. You do not, however, have the right to continue being employed if you say something that makes your employer look bad. [Before anyone gets carried away with thinking that A&E might actually share the values that a majority of Americans now share regarding the LGBT community, I think we're fooling ourselves if we think this is anything but a massive PR stunt that will make both A&E and the show in question even more popular]

2. Can't we agree that reality television is really trite and that there are more important things going on in the US and in the world? Take a second a compare the US CNN site and the International CNN site if you think that Americans aren't distracted by nonsense. Shouldn't topics such as wars in Syria and Afghanistan, high poverty rates among children in the US, and a growing income gap grab our attention more than what some celebrity said? 

3.  In the ruling of the recent court case in Utah, the judge reaffirmed what should by now be common sense: families with gay or lesbian parents pose no threat to families with opposite sex parents. The repeal of parts of DOMA highlighted the completely disengenuous and wholly unsubstantiated argument that proponents of anti-equality amendments and laws have been spewing. They said that my family harms them; finally, the courts are standing up and saying "prove it!" And, guess what, the defenders of these hateful laws have been unable to do it. These laws are totally about private religion, or private animous, invading the public sector. In the USA, we have strong laws that prevent us from passing other laws only to demonstrate hate or discrimination to one segment of society. The various laws or constitutional amendments that bar same sex couples from getting married do not protect "straight marriage" as they are purported to do. They only promulgate hate. 

4. If your religious convictions mandate that you don't get married to someone of the same sex, then you are free to put those principles into practice in your own life. I do not subscribe to any such religion and I would prefer if you keep your views to yourself and practice your religion respectfully and privately. Thankfully now, a majority of people in America are in support of marriage equality. Our laws in the US are slowly, but surely, catching up to this new reality. I'm thankful for these strides toward social justice as they have a real and practical impact on my family. One thing I learned from our recent job search is that the world-wide marriage equality movement is not about abstract ideas. It's about security and safety for families like mine in many states and countries. If we've finally reached the point as a society where we can say that blatant homophobia doesn't meet with our beliefs and values, then I say happy new year. 

In other news, we're back from Prague and all four have a pretty nast case of jet lag. Here's to an easy day of unpacking and movies!  


Friday, December 27, 2013

Prague: Day 6

We've been enjoying roaming around the various playgrounds and the markets right near our apartment. On day six, we got a little more adventurous and took a walk to the Prague Castle. The walk there was brisk as it was early in the morning. There weren't many pedestrians out on the street. Nyssa helped us find our way through the windy corridors once we crossed over the Vltava. The map, however, was not our friend, as it turned out that our chosen path included about 22 sets of stairs. We formed a team with Chad and Nyssa taking both strollers at the back and me picking both up at the front and we climbed the stairs one by one, much to the amusement of the people strolling leisurely down in the opposite direction. Once we reached the summit, we enjoyed some breathtaking views of the city covered in the mists of the morning air. It was truly refreshing to see actual fog that isn't laced in pollution... Ah, Delhi! I will not miss your sketchy air quality!

After seeing a quick guard changing ceremony at the government buildings, our tour commenced. We visited the Old Palace, a 12th century Romanesque church that had been beautifully restored, and a quaint row of houses where smithies and bars from days gone by were preserved to give us a taste of what Prague must have been like long ago. Finally, we went to the Cathedral and marveled at the beautiful stained glass. The boys took it all in from the comfort of their strollers. We stopped a few times to let them stretch their legs and push their own strollers around. All in all, they were perfectly behaved little tourist-gentlemen. 

Until all hell broke loose. During the last few minutes of the last stop on our tour, Cedric decided he had had enough stroller time and wanted to be carried. Since we'd pushed our luck and had kept the boys out past their nap time, I carried him for as long as I could. But , at the end of the first mile on our two-mile walk back to our apartment, my arms had had enough, and--much to his dismay--I put him back in his stroller. Yikes! He screamed all the way back to our hotel while we quickly rushed down streets and through squares. I've never pushed a stroller so quickly in my life. 

Finally back at the apartment, we quickly got them changed and put down for a nap. They slept for three and a half hours. Poor little guys were tuckered out from a morning of strolling and sight seeing. 

The evening was spent playing around the apartment, eating dinner, and then going for a stroll on the square to see the evening Christmas events. There was a very interesting Czech folk band that played on the main stage as we walked. We ate a few more helpings of trdlo, the sweet bread that is gently rolled over the fire and coated with sweet cinnamon and sugar. A few more glasses of mulled wine and some cold beers were also enjoyed by the adults. 
Back at our apartment, we Skyped with my family who was having their Christmas celebrations on the 26th instead of the 25th. It was nice to see everyone opening the presents we bought and sent. Internet shopping finally made manifest. And, sadly, we said goodbye to Nyssa. She was flying early the next morning to Berlin to see family. We've so enjoyed having her on the trip and the twins LOVE their Aunt Nyssa time. 

One more full day is all we have left in Prague. This vacation is flying by. Hopefully the pounds of food we've eaten will fly off of our waistlines just as quickly once we return to Delhi. 

Love and Peace, 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Prague: Day 5 - Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone. We're having a great time here in Prague. Christmas Day with the boys was very laid back. We spent the morning at home playing with toys and having a great time. In the afternoon we walked to Zofin Island, where the boys ran around and played on the excellent playground equipment. In the evening, we had our Christmas meal and then we all took turns calling our family members on Skype. Then we went out and walked around the square. All in all, it was an excellent Christmas Day in Prague.

All the Best, 
Douglas and Family

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Prague: Day 4

Christmas Eve!

Like most of Europe, Christmas Eve is when the celebration happens. We spent the day with the boys shopping for presents and feasting on the local cuisine. We enjoyed a wonderful Christmas Eve meal right on the Old Town Square. 

The apartment we've rented for this week is ideally located just a minute from the festivities and when we walk outside we often hear the bells tolling from the astronomical clock. Here's a video of our walk from our apartment to the main square where the Christmas Market is located. 

In other news, the boys have mostly recovered from the jet lag, but were still quite tired. They took two long naps during the day. Their appetites are also returning. We are looking forward to hearing from friends and family over the next few days as celebrations and gatherings of those near and dear to us take place in various locations throughout the world.

Love and Peace,
Douglas, Chad, Cedric and Ezra

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Prague: Day 3

The boys sleeping in until 6:30 AM during our first full day in Prague must have been a fluke. On our second day, they woke up at 3:00 AM and went charging full steam ahead. Needless to say, Chad and I were not ready to get up at that time. We sort of stumbled into the day, relying on the strong coffee I'd bought at the store on the day before.

One nice thing about staying in this apartment versus staying in a hotel is there is a little courtyard right outside our door where the boys can run around. We played outside for a little while in the morning. They chased each other, threw hickory nuts around and ran after them, and pushed their strollers in circles. Basically, they did what they needed to do to work out their energy.

When we travel one of the most difficult things is figuring out what the boys' eating and sleeping schedule will be. European time is only 3 and 1/2 hours behind Asia; but, those three hours make a huge difference on their little bodies. Ezra really didn't feel like eating much yesterday, except for the homemade potato chips we got in the Christmas Market. 

Yesterday, we explored more of the markets and took a long walk in the afternoon to one of the islands on the Vltava where the boys had lots of space to run around and chase after the prodigiously large, and somewhat tame, geese wandering around. 

By the time we walked back to the apartment it was almost dark. The sun is setting in Prague at about 4:00 PM. So, the boys played in the apartment, ate dinner and watched a movie with me while Chad and Nyssa went to adult dinner. 

Here are some pictures from our third day in Prague: 
Ezra climbing on the playground equipment on the island we walked to.

The boys playing in the courtyard of our apartment. 

A view of Old Town from across the river. 

Nyssa, Chad and the boys. 
Yummy Czech pastries. 

Chilling out in the park. 

So excited to see the geese. 

Happy family with Prague Castle in the background.
Yummy potato chips in the Christmas Market. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Prague: Day 2

Warning: this blog post contains more detail than you probably want to know about our vacation. I apologize to our dear blog readers. I am really just chronicling our trip for us.  You are, of course, invited to read along. Maybe you might see something valuable for planning your next trip with your kids (either what to do, or what not to do!) 

And now that I've lowered your expectations. . . 

The boys gave us an early Christmas present and slept until 6:00AM--which is actually 9:30 AM Delhi time. I guess they knew how tired their dads were. So, we got up and I made the boys some oatmeal for breakfast. Instant oatmeal is our favorite travel breakfast. Then, I went out in search of pastries for Chad and me. We are staying in an apartment less than one block off of Old Town Square, and there were some revelers from the Saturday night festivitesstill wandering about the square probably looking for carbohydrates as well to help soften the blow of morning time after a long night of partying. In spite of the tipsy partiers, Prague was beautiful in the morning. I visited this city about 15 years ago, and I remember the city being lovely, but something--probably being able to share this experience with my own family--makes it even more lovely now.
I forgot that it was Sunday morning and so none of the pastry shops were open yet. So I wandered back to the apartment and we played with the boys for a while. Then, we got them all bundled up for a little walk around the neighborhood. After we wandered on our own, we met the owner of the apartment where we're staying and he took us on a mini-tour of the neighborhood and showed us where all of the good restaurants are, where to get groceries and gave us some ideas of things to do with kids. He's a super nice guy, and after we leave, I will post his website so anyone who is thinking of coming to Prague can contact him to rent this great apartment. 

So far, the only thing I know I forgot when packing was a belt for myself. I've recently lost a bit of weight, so having a belt is not an option. So, we went to the nearby mall and got a belt, saw where the grocery store was, and made plans to return later when the boys took a nap. After the mall, we walked back to the square and got our first taste of the food from the Christmas market. Sausages and fresh bread with mulled wine for me and beer for Chad. 

The boys had started nodding off in their strollers, so it was time for an official nap. We headed back to the apartment and put them down. They slept for almost three hours. I had time to take a little nap myself and head back to the grocery store to pick up stuff so the boys and us could have some meals at the apartment. When the boys woke up, we wandered around the square --now teeming with families-- then drank some more mulled wine (Chad and me, not the boys). We met up with our friend, Nyssa for dinner and then went to a concert after in St. Nicholas's church which is right on the Old Town Square. 

A little side note about all of these trips outside. It is significantly colder in Prague than the moderate "winter" Delhi weather we're used to. So each trip requires about 10 minutes worth of adding on layers so our boys don't freeze. when we're finally finished with the thermal onesie, outer clothes, hat, coat and gloves, the boys look like little Michelin men. 

Back to the concert... Being a classically trained musician, one of the things I miss most about the US, Europe, or pretty much any other major city outside of Delhi is really high-quality classical music. In India, there is a really vibrant classical and folk arts scene, and since we've arrived in India, there's been an emergence of new bands that fuse Indian and Western pop music. But, there really isn't any significant Western Classical music scene, and I miss operas and symphonies more than is really reasonable. So, I was thrilled that there was a chamber orchestra concert with soprano and trumpet soloists right on the square last night. 

The boys sat really well through the whole concert. Both of our boys love listening to live and recorded music. But, as it was already well past their bedtime in India, Ezra fell asleep after about 15 minutes. Cedric was a trooper and really tried to stay awake. At one point, he had his eyes most of the way closed and the audience started to applaud at the end of a piece and Cedric, very half-heartedly, woke up and clapped along, then laid his head back down on Chad's shoulder. 

When we returned to the apartment, the long day of walking, bundling and eating had caught up with everyone, so we put the boys to bed, had a glass of wine with Nyssa and chatted for a bit. Then, we went to bed ourselves. 

Here's a preview for tomorrow's post: the boys did not sleep until 6:30 AM.  Ugh. 

Love and Safe Travels, 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Prague: Day 1

We've arrived! And I have to say, flying to Europe from Asia is barely easier than flying to North America. The boys did great all day long (and it was a LONG day getting here!). We woke them up at 3:00AM and headed to Indira Ghandi International Airport. Despite recent diplomatic issues between the US and India, going through immigration and security at IGI was as uneventful as ever. In fact, I think we set a new record for going from our door all the way through security at just under one hour!

And Cedric discovered moving sidewalks:

We flew from New Delhi to Istanbul. On the flight, the boys watched movies on the iPads (Cars, Finding Nemo and Planes), which is something we don't let them do at home. Needless to say, they loved their screen time and we loved not having to chase them up and down the plane for six hours. They stayed in their seats very well and napped on and off. 

Our layover in Istanbul was too long. Our flight to Prague didn't leave for six hours. Thankfully, Istanbul boasts the best Star Alliance lounge in the world. The have the best food and a great playroom for the boys. The only issue was that the whole airport was so crowded we felt we were bumping into people all over the place. I guess that's what we get for traveling the weekend before Christmas.

Cedric enjoyed eating the delicious baklava in the lounge, and Ezra loved watching the real planes and cars outside.

By the time we boarded the flight to Prague, the boys were pretty tired and it was approaching their bedtime. So, they watched movies a bit more and then both boys crashed for the duration of the flight.  I think Chad and I even got a bit of shut eye. 

We landed in Prague and were embraced by the wonderfully cool and crisp air. We're so glad to be in Europe for winter break. The boys, however, didn't share our joy and when we put their coats on, Cedric lost it and had an epic tantrum that lasted twenty minutes while we were in the car on our way to our apartment in Old Town. I apologized profusely to our driver. Two-year-old tantrums can make time stand still. 

When we got to the apartment, we got the boys settled in and met our friend, Nyssa, who traveled all the way from the US to meet us for this vacation. Nyssa met us underneath the beautiful Christmas tree that is in the Old Town square. What a great Christmas gift for us and for the boys. 

The apartment where we're staying is great. The owner met us and showed us around. He's going to give us a brief tour on Sunday morning so we can get our bearings. We're looking forward to a week of cold weather, great food, conversation and beautiful sights. 

More to come! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

When The Stars Align

All of the stars have aligned. When we started our job search we never dreamed that we would be presented with such an amazing opportunity. All of our wants and a few bonus features for our next home have been met. The city is clean, they had jobs for both of us, and our marriage will be legally recognized!

We are happy to announce that in August 2014 we are moving to Amsterdam in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Here is a flash back photo from when we first went to Amsterdam in 2008!

Smiles ear to ear!

Chad & Douglas

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Changing American Family

I don't know if we're "exemplars of domesticity," but this article is well worth the read. Scroll down about half way for the portion entitled "The Baby Boom for Gay Parents."

Can you imagine what the statistics would look like with full marriage equality?

Can you imagine how many more same-sex parents there are now versus 2008?

What incredible, wonderful changes will we see over the next few years?

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Heading into the Unknown

Searching for a job internationally is complicated. Especially when dependents, housing, and visas are factors to be considered by your prospective employer. There are not many places in the world that offer both Douglas and myself a position in the same location where it is not illegal for us to live.

It has been sixteen years since I came out of the closet and since then I have never faced any sort of discrimination because of that (that I know of). I suppose I have just been lucky; however in our job searching we have found that the world is much smaller that we originally thought. We only have two requirements of a country; clean air, and not illegal to be gay.

The unknown is really scary. The fact that we don't know where we will live starting in June is frightening. Even if we move back to the United States we still don't know exactly where we will live.

Whatever happens happens... Everything will work out in the end.