Categories
Family

How Cross Country Friends Became A Happy Poly Family

The year is at its end. And the new one is here. It’s a been a weird, roller coaster of a year. And this last week of it has led to a lot of reflection on how we got here. Lovey and I will be celebrating (God willing) our 16th year together. We will also (God willing) be moving our not so little poly family into a much larger home, where we can all be under the same roof. These are dreams we have had for our entire relationship, though they did look a little more monogamous at the beginning.

A long distance friendship

Lovey and I met 22 years ago through a mutual friend. He was a Senior in High School and I was a lowly Sophomore. And there was an entire country between us. Or three quarters of one, anyway. We were friends, exchanging long distance phone calls and the occasional email. It was one of the first real friendships I had had with a guy.

Over the years, we managed to “meet” one time during our friendship. And it sent my young innocent heart all a flutter. I was sunk from that day on, hopelessly pining away after the older guy that lived oh so very far away. So could you blame me if I secretly hoped whatever relationship he entered during our friendship would sour and fall apart?

Relationships came and went, for both of us. Phone calls and emails were a little more sporadic as time went on as well. We were young adults, coming into our own, and we lived on opposite sides of the country practically. But when we did connect, it was as if the time elapsed was only minutes instead of weeks or months.

A blessing in disguise

And then, finally, the catalyst that started what would be us. An accident put him out of commission for a bit. And so we talked almost daily while he healed. It seems weird to thank God for an accident like his, but I did. And I still do. It slowed him down enough to reevaluate his path and where he wanted to go. Luckily it lead him to me.

Somewhere in those multiple phone calls and emails following the accident, our friendship shifted. A relationship began to grow. And before we knew it, we were sharing I Love Yous and falling asleep talking to each other at night. Several oversized phone bills later and he took the next big step in our budding romance. He jumped on a plane and moved to my town. To my house, specifically.

It was intense. And wonderful. And scary. And the best several months of my short life to that point.

A happy poly family

Before our new relationship had celebrated an anniversary, we were pregnant and engaged. On our second anniversary, we said I Do. Anniversary #3 (or #1 the reboot, depending on how you count) saw us pregnant again. Four years into our relationship we were a happy little family of four.

We’ve had several more anniversaries since. And a lot of ups, and some pretty dark downs. But we are still here, still together, 22 years after those first awkward phone calls. I could never have imagined our life would look the way it does now. Three kids. Five cats. A boyfriend for me. A partner for him. And a dog. Just one happy poly family with some big plans for the future.

Categories
Family Polyamory

Navigating Family Gatherings When You’re Not Out

Family gatherings can be difficult to navigate no matter the season. The holidays don’t make them any more or less tricky, despite what we may think. The trickiness comes from the sheer number of gatherings that happen during that time. For 2 months, we get pulled in all directions to spend time with family and friends. Add in a partner, and you have doubled those numbers. Add in multiple partners and… Well, thank goodness for Google Calendar and planners.

If you’re polyamorous, and open about it with everyone, then these family gatherings are easier to deal with. Everyone will assume you’ll either bring multiple partners or trade off, depending on schedules and personalities. If you’re polyamorous and not open about it, you have got your hands full!

Who knows about which partner? Who has met which partner? Are you open with some, and not others? Did Aunt Betty spill the beans to Grandma about your “unique” relationship? Will Grandpa Joe spill the beans to everyone over Christmas dinner because someone poured him one too many cups of the eggnog?

And let’s not forget the effect this can all have on your partners. If, like me, you started your polyamorous journey from an  already established relationship, where family members know your main or primary partner, then your other partners can feel left out. Or like the dirty little secret that you are keeping from your family. And nobody wants that.

Family Gathering Negotiations

So how do we navigate all of the trickiness that comes with multiple partners and family gatherings? Carefully, and with a lot of communication.

The best place to start is to sit down with your partners. If you can do this all together, at one sit down, even better! If schedules don’t allow for it, don’t sweat it. But make sure no big decisions are made until everyone is on the same page and on board.

Then, it’s time to go through the calendar, event by event. Include their family gatherings too. This is a group project, after all. But not the dumb kind from school where only one person did the work. Everyone is pulling their fair share of figuring out how to maneuver through the holidays together.

Important things to ask each other

  1. Who is out about being polyamorous? And are they out with everyone, or just a select few?
  2. Assuming most are not out, which partner has the family already met? And is that partner available to attend those events? And do they want to? Sometimes the answer is no, and that is okay. No one said we have to get along with everyone all the time.
  3. Are the partners that will be staying home for those events okay with how the evening will go? Are they invited to attend as a friend? Or would they rather just sit this one out? This is going to depend on that individual. Some are not okay just being introduced as a friend when the relationship is so much deeper and more intimate than that. And others are okay with it, so long as they get to spend time with their people.

Family Gatherings: Out or Not Out?

A big thing to remember during all of the negotiating is to not pressure anyone to come out to their family. Don’t push that door open for someone who is just not ready. No matter their reason for keeping that part of themselves private. It is up to them to decide if, when, and how to share that information with other people. If you are already out, I’m sure this can be frustrating at times. As one who is still in the closet to some, I can tell you it is frustrating on this side too sometimes. So please be patient with us.

Holiday gatherings can add another layer of stress to an already stressful season for some. Just remember, it’s also supposed to be one of the happiest seasons. If you find yourself stressed about navigating gatherings, then it’s perfectly okay to just stay in. And this year has given everyone the absolute perfect excuse to skip the big family gatherings, so feel free to take advantage of it! But if you want to go out and (safely!) spend time during the holidays with family, remember to communicate with everyone in your polycule beforehand. Ask questions. Be ready to hear their answers.

I hope you all enjoy your holidays, no matter which ones you celebrate. And enjoy the people you get to spend them with.

Categories
Family LGBTQ+

New Holiday Movies Are Coming to Make the Season Gay-er

It is the middle of November! And the Holiday Season is in full swing. Retailers are pulling out the holiday themed sales and products. More people are breaking the post-Thanksgiving tradition of decorating that weekend by pulling those Christmas trees out now. And the networks and streaming services are gearing up to release a slew of new Holiday Movies.

The best part of this last tidbit is that several of those are also going to release LGBTQ+ holiday movies! And I’m not talking about those feel good stories that have a wacky gay best friend and/or roommate. I mean a feel good, cozy holiday story that FEATURE an LGBTQ+ storyline.

In case you’ve missed the news, I’ve rounded them up here. Read on for the 5 new Holiday Movies coming this season and where you can watch them.

The Christmas House

Working through some difficult decisions, Mitchell family matriarch Phylis and patriarch Bill, have summoned their two grown sons – TV star, Mike Mitchell and Brandon Mitchell – home for the holidays. It is their hope that bringing the family together to recreate the Christmas house, will help them find resolution and make a memorable holiday for the entire family and community. As Brandon and his husband Jake make the trip home, they are anxiously awaiting a call about the adoption of their first child. Meanwhile, Mike reconnects with Andi, his high school sweetheart. (Coming November 22 to Hallmark.)

Happiest Season

A holiday romantic comedy that captures the range of emotions tied to wanting your family’s acceptance, being true to yourself, and trying not to ruin Christmas. (Coming November 25 to Hulu.)

I Hate New Year’s

Rising music star Layne heads home to Nashville for New Year’s Eve to break her writer’s block, but sometimes you find inspiration – and love – where you least expect it. (Coming December 4 On Demand.)

The Christmas Setup

As they enjoy the local holidays together, Hugo and Patrick’s attraction to each other is undeniable but as Hugo receives word of a big promotion requiring a move to London, he must decide what is most important to him. (Coming December 12 to Lifetime.)

Dashing in December

When Wyatt Burwall finally returns home for the holidays in an effort to convince his mother Deb to sell the family’s Colorado ranch, a romance unexpectedly ignites between Wyatt and their dashing new ranch hand Heath Ramos, who dreams of saving the beloved property and the ranch’s magical Winter Wonderland attraction while reawakening the spirit of Christmas in Wyatt’s lonely heart. (Coming December 13 to Paramount.)

2020 has been a rough year. So I am going to be embracing the joy of this holiday season as much as I can. And that will include watching these movies with some popcorn, a cuddly blanket, and my family. Then I will watch them again to show those networks that we want more LGBTQ+ representation in our holidays!

So tell me, which one are you most looking forward to?

PS

If you want to watch more LGBTQ+ holiday movies this season, and want to add some to your Holiday Movie Sticks, fill out the form below. I’ll send you a list that includes the 5 new ones mentioned above plus some older ones that I’ve found.

Categories
Family Polyamory

Easy Holiday Planning So You Can Actually Enjoy Yours

I don’t know about you all, but Holidays are kind of a big deal for us. Gifts and Quality Time are my love languages, so naturally I get very into showering my family with both of those any chance I get. And the biggest opportunity is the end of year Holiday Season. So come November 1st, I am in full Holiday Planning Mode.

Our growing up traditions

In the before-times, when it was just Lovey and I and the girls, the planning and shopping was a simpler affair. Growing up, we always made Wish Lists, for our family members and of course for Santa. It was something I kept up into my adulthood, even if Santa stopped leaving goodies for me.

So naturally, it was something I wanted to bring to my own little family.

Lovey on the other hand had a more conservative Christmas past. His parents didn’t believe in the big commercialization and consumerism. They focused on the religious backing of the holiday. Which meant, for their family, church service, a meal, and 3 gifts each.

My poor little gift giving heart simply could not let that continue once we were together.

The perfect gift

A big part of the holiday planning, for us, is the gifting. The shopping, the wrapping, and the behind the scenes stuff that happens first. Like making those Wish Lists and collecting Wish Lists from our kids.

Once we had received them from both of our girls, Lovey and I would write out our budget and what items we would like to find, as well as who those items would be from. When they were younger, we would label gifts for the girls from their sister. We do the same for Munchkin now. But as they got older, Sass and Crumbs got into the spirit of picking out the perfect gifts for each other. So they get a budget and we take them shopping separately.

We also like to include extended family in all of this. (Did I mention gifts were my love language?) So that means we were shopping and planning for grandparents and aunts and uncles, too. And nowadays we add Boyfriend and Bats into the mix. That is a lot of people to keep track of!

So many events, so little time

Of course gifts is only one aspect of the holiday planning. There are also parties, dinners, kids’ events to take into account. Even if you are not personally hosting or throwing any of these, you still need to know when they are and if you’ve RSVP’d, right? And, if you’re a person of faith, there are also potentially church services and activities to boot!

For us, thankfully, parties are not usually on the calendar. There were the occasional work Christmas parties, but since we both left the work world where those are thrown, we have not had to worry about them. We do get to worry about remembering kids events, though! Every grade in elementary school seems to have its own holiday show planned so we were often going to school on two separate occasions. But again, there was no planning on our part. We simply showed up when and where we were told.

Dinners on the other hand! I used to overlook these in my holiday planning as our circles were smaller and less complicated than they are now.

I enjoy cooking and planning a big meal to share with those I love. However, I also have separate circles for all of my humans. Two, to be specific. One we are openly poly with, and one we are not. Planning and scheduling these sometimes can get a little hairy. But we always seem to make it work.

So by now, you’re probably wondering how on earth I manage to track all of this. And how you can too.

A better holiday planning system

For the longest time, all of my planning was just done in a spare notebook. A different page for all the different things I need to keep track of. This proved tricky more than once when I would need to keep certain things secret from certain people, or when I received Wish Lists. I needed a better system. So I started using a notes app on my phone. But that only worked really well for gift tracking. And none of the other stuff. That all stayed in the stray notebook that kept wandering off.

I finally figured out I needed something I could add loose pages to, something with pockets for all of those gift receipts and scraps of notes, something with categories and a touch more organization so I wouldn’t forget important details. And a calendar to put all the dates and parties and activities on.

Photo of the pages available in the 2020 holiday planning workbook.

So here it is! My printable workbook to organize all your holiday planning. In its 15 pages, you’ll find wish lists and gift trackers for partners, metamours, kids, and everyone else. You’ll also find budget sheets, a menu for those holiday dinners you’ll host, and a shopping list. And, of course, a blank 30 day calendar (with stickers!) to help you plan out all the events, shopping, cooking, and celebrating. Print, (hole)punch, pop it in a binder, and you are all set to plan the holiday season. And actually enjoy the holidays too!

I know the holiday season can get stressful. I hope this workbook can help alleviate some of that stress for you. It has certainly helped me.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Categories
Family

The Importance of Self Care and How to Pamper Yourself

How important is self care? Let’s take a look at where we are first. 2020 has been a hell of a year for a lot of us. Election year, which is concluding this week. A pandemic. And cries for social justice. It has felt like the longest of years. And it is almost over. In 2, hopefully short, months we will all ring in the New Year. I, for one, will be going with the meme that had floated around, and will be screaming JUMANJI! into the void. Because you just never know. But until then, for today, I can do a little something for me.

I’m sure we have all been hearing to take care of ourselves. To practice a little self-care. We are all struggling mentally, in some form or another. And taking a moment in our day to focus on doing something for ourselves, to look at all the cute baby animal pictures or binge a few episodes of a favorite show, is a great way to give our brains a chance to pause all the negativity and stress.

To my fellow moms, I know this is a hard one. We are all about the kids and the partners. But this is important. Remember those flight safety talks? Put the oxygen mask on yourself first. You’re no good to anyone if you pass out. Plus, it shows good habits to those tiny humans we are trying to raise into adulthood. These are skills they will also need, so show them.

What is Self Care Exactly?

It can be literally anything that brings you joy and zero negativity. It can be whatever lets you turn off the to do lists and the planning and worrying and the whatever else you have draining your mental energy. It can last for just a short 10 minutes to a couple hours to all day, if that’s what you need. Just make sure it is safe for you and safe for those around you. If you have kiddos, make sure they are taken care of while you take care of yourself.

But Lucie, I need ideas!

No worries, I got you! Below are some of my go-to self care treats. Some are completely free. Some have a price tag. Some only require a few minutes of your time. Some can be stretched out to fill an entire day. It’s all up to you.

Try a Bath

I love a hot bath, with bubbles and a candle and some soft music or a book. The time it takes to set it up, however, can be a little bit of a pain. Getting the right temperature water and finding the time for it can sometimes be tricky. But once it happens, it is magic!

Read Something

Another love of mine is books! I have them everywhere. And I love re-reading my favorites. There is comfort in opening the pages and meeting a familiar character in a familiar story. No surprises. Just a journey you already know that has been blurred by time.

Watch Something

This can be movies or shows. As with books, there is comfort in the familiarity of something you’ve seen before. There is no shortage of new things to watch, and sometimes I do. But usually, I will fall into the characters and storylines I know. And thanks to all of the streaming networks, I can turn back to shows I grew up with or haven’t watched since they aired originally 10 or 15 years ago.

Play a Game

Console, app, card, or otherwise, go play a game. Single player games are great for turning off that brain. Depending on how much has been in my head, I may play some fairly mindless ones. Or, if I need to distract myself, I’ll pull out something that requires some puzzling or a just little more concentration. They are also great for family nights. Everyone needs a break from life at some point, even kids. Why not practice some self-care together?

Go Shopping

Whether you’re buying or not, sometimes it is nice to just wander a store and look at all the pretty things. My favorite places are book stores, of course. But also Target. They have everything. And thanks to my oldest daughter, I have also been slowly falling in love with Ulta Beauty. The nail polishes, the lotions, the potions… There is only a small portion of the store I wander through, but it is enough to make my heart lighter.

Get a Massage

Once upon a time, when Lovey and I first started dating, he wanted to pursue massage therapy. Which meant hours of practical experience he had to knock out for classes. That was when I got hooked. I enjoyed them before but it wasn’t until he started the schooling and practicing on me that I really got into all of the benefits. Sadly, he kind of ruined me for the relaxing froo-froo (as he calls it) massages. But that’s okay. The ones that fix problem areas and relieve painful spots are amazing too. Maybe even more so.

Get Your Hair Done

I love having my hair brushed. I could sit and just let someone brush and braid my hair for a solid couple of hours, if someone was so inclined. Also, a fresh hair cut or simple trim can do wonders for boosting my mood. Same with getting a new color. I tend to stick to at home stuff for the quick fix, but have gone to the salon and spent a blissful day in peace and quiet having it professionally colored.

Manis & Pedis

I love having my nails painted. Not always by someone else, as I get fidgety. I prefer taking the time in the evenings or during Munchkin’s naptime to paint them myself. And then for the rest of the time until they chip off, I have something pretty to look at.

Go Outside

Sometimes just a change of scenery can help lift my mood and calm my mind. A walk around the block, a visit to the local nature center for an easy hike, or simply sitting on the back porch with a book and a cup of coffee. The fresh air is good for you. The sun is good for you. Get those sunshine-y vitamins in and embrace the outside.

Take a Nap

Naps are underrated. I think we should embrace them! Sometimes the best thing to do is rest. Did you have a fitful night’s sleep? Did you overdo it during the week? Or are you so mentally drained you have no more energy for even the little things? Take a nap. It doesn’t have to be hours long. Just 20-30 minutes of laying down in the quiet and letting your mind and body rest is so nice. Sure, sometimes I over do it and wake up more groggy than refreshed, but nine times out of ten, I feel so much better. And I’m ready to take on some tasks that I previously just couldn’t.

That’s it! My go to options for a little self care. I’ve had to learn it’s okay to take that time. And I’m passing that to you. It’s more than okay, it’s important. Hopefully something here spoke to you. Try it out, see if you don’t feel a little better, a little lighter. And don’t forget to drink some water. And breathe.

How do you practice self care? Share your tips in the comments below.