Our Island

This part is going to be short and sweet, the rest, not so much. Sofia is using they/them pronouns now. They would prefer to be called Fox. Their story is theirs, and they will tell it when they are ready, if they ever are. I am here to tell my story. Good stories are always a journey. Parenting Fox is no different than any other journey I have been on as a parent. It has been filled with joy, and pain, and a lot of learning. One thing I have learned very clearly, sometimes through hard lessons, is how to build my kids an island (all the credit to Glennon Doyle for the words here).

When hate and fear approaches the island, we pull up the drawbridge. If you are here to support and love Fox for all of who they are, welcome. If not, there are thirteen people over here waiting to help me crank up our drawbridge, because fear and hate have no place on our island.

There was no coming out for Fox, at least not to me. There was a simple declaration of change, and as they informed others outside of our house of this change, those people would approach me with questions. Our island is full of people who love Fox. The field of work I have chosen has given me the tools to answer any questions people have in ways that affirm Fox. That doesn’t mean that there is no grief for me here. A thing can be hard and still be exactly right. This is right for Fox. It is hard for me as a parent.

It is not hard because I am struggling to grapple with who Fox is. That part is easy. Fox is my child, and loving Fox is easy. Well, not easy maybe, they are a sullen teenager, but loving your child is easy. Loving them with the weight of the world’s judgment being heaped upon you is less easy.

Cruel criticism from the crowd poses less of a problem for me than the quiet concern of the people who are supposed to love us. My family is supposed to love me, they were supposed to love my children. I think they do, but they don’t speak to me anymore, so it’s hard to tell. The worst part of any moment of difference in regard to my children is the quiet concern that radiates from them. My family will tolerate people of color. They will tolerate people with mental illness or disabilities. They will tolerate LGBTQ+ people. But, is tolerance the kind of love I want for my children? Is tolerance enough? They tolerated me right up until the moment I chose a path that was mine and mine alone. Will that be what Fox endures? That has created more pain than anything in my life, the mere tolerance of who I am. Fox deserves more than that.

The second I marched off of the path that had carefully laid for me, was the second the quiet concern began. Worry was disguised as love. Fear ruled. I had to build an island. I had to become an adult. I had to create something different. Your fear is not my family’s problem. It should never have been mine. There are people who understand that. I fill my life with those people now. I fill my life with the people who I can lower the drawbridge for, the people who understand my Fox and will love them unconditionally.

We become responsible women when we stop being obedient daughters. The best way to honor my parents is to trust fully the woman they raised. –Glennon Doyle.

I trust fully the woman my parents raised. I trust her to pick herself up from the blows of quiet concern and any cruel criticism of the crowd and to choose being a mother every single time. That is the only declaration to anyone here, the only true coming out, the advanced notice to everyone in our world that every damn time, from here on out, I will choose mother. Our island may get smaller because of it. We are okay with that.

Text from page 194 of Glennon Doyle's book 'Untamed.'

–FullPlateMom, whose cobuilder, FullPlateDad, cosigns this post.

Make A Wish, Baby!

Gigi is going to Make A Wish, baby! A few months ago, she was referred for a wish from the Make A Wish Foundation. She asked for a camper very clearly. I was so proud of her for that! Today, her wish was granted! We celebrated the heck out of it!

Gigi and Isabel had special outfits. Even though Isa was headed to school, we wanted her to be part of the special day. Isabel needed to stay in her routine. Today, the focus needed to be on Gigi. But, Isa is definitely a huge part of Gigi’s heart, so she wanted her to feel special too.

Picture of two outfits laid neatly on a wooden floor. The outfit on the left is a mint green tee with an image of a vintage camper with the words 'Happy Camper' and 'Gigi's Wish 
2021' on it. The skirt is dark colored with a sequined rainbow on it. The outfit on the right has a white tee with a black image of a camp fire and two marshmallow roasting sticks over it. The words 'Camping Crew' are written in an arch above it. The skirt below it has tiny flowers covering it.

We owe a huge thank you to Kunes RV! They did an amazing job of making Gigi feel special. We are also very grateful to her wish granters, Carmen and Maggie. Mary was on site to interpret too! Gigi arrived at the RV dealership to find presents awaiting her!

Image of Gigi, a small Asian girl, standing in front of a small travel trailer with a rectangular blue sign hanging from it. The sign says "Make A Wish." She is holding a present wrapped in white paper with a blue bow on it. She is holding a small blue star shaped balloon. In front of her is a small camping chair and backpack.

After checking out her presents, she began to explore her camper.

Image of Gigi, a small Asian girl, standing in the doorway of a small travel trailer. She is holding a small balloon shaped like a blue star. She is smiling broadly.
Image of Gigi, a small Asian girl, exploring a small travel trailer. Her brother, Bowen, a small Asian boy with Dwarfism, stands behind her. He is dressed in white shorts and a tan t-shirt.

Gigi was so excited! There are bunk beds! She claimed the top bunk right away.

Image of Gigi, a small Asian girl, sitting on the top bunk of a travel trailer. Her facial expression is a large grin.

As she explored the camper, she found tiny surprises everywhere. There were cookies for her. The baker had included a beautiful drawing from her 5 year old. We got your picture Quinn, it made us so happy!

Image of Gigi, a small Asian girl, holding a box of custom cookies. The visible cookie is frosted purple with black letters on it that say 'Camp Gigi.' Gigi is grinning broadly. Her sister Tess, also a small Asian girl, is sitting behind her smiling at the camera.

Her wish was granted. She can’t wait to take a trip in her new RV.

Image of Gigi, a small Asian girl, sitting in front of her travel trailer in her camping chair. She is smiling broadly and holding a blue star balloon. Her siblings Ally, Fox, Tess, Bo, Cate, and Jax are standing behind her smiling as well. The words 'Wish Granted' have been added to the picture in pink text just above the children's heads.

–FullPlateMom, who is headed to Pinterest for decorating ideas.

Graduation Day for Cam! Class of 2021

It’s graduation day for Cam! FPD and I were able to attend the event IN PERSON. No Zoom graduation this year. WOOHOO!

Image of the front of a graduation program. The program is printed on green paper. The black lettering reads 'James Madison Memorial High School. Fifty-Fourth Commencement. Spartans. Class of 2021.'

We are so proud of Cam. He persevered through some tough loss this year. He attended approximately 8 weeks of in person school. Everything else was cancelled or done virtually. I don’t think any adolescent enjoys that. Cam couldn’t do it at all. His grades began to tank, mental health was not what it once was. But, as the world slowly opened up again, so did Cam, and we saw the return of the kid we always knew. He rejoined the Track team and his grades began to improve. He ended the year a little closer to where he was before the whole world was rocked by something none of us could have imagined and definitely couldn’t control.

Image of Cam, a tall Black man, wearing a green graduation gown, mortar board and holding his diploma.
Image of Cam, a tall Black man, wearing a green graduation gown, mortar board and holding his diploma.He is standing next to FullPlateMom, a white woman with red hair. She is wearing sunglasses and large gold diamond shaped earrings. She is wearing a black printed maxi dress.
Image of Cam, a tall Black man, wearing a green graduation gown, mortar board and holding his diploma.He is standing next to FullPlateMom, a white woman with red hair. She is wearing sunglasses and large gold diamond shaped earrings. She is wearing a black printed maxi dress. FullPlateDad, a tall white man with brown hair, is standing to the other side of Cam. He is wearing a blue t-shirt and navy blue shorts.

After Cam’s graduation day, his plan is to enjoy this summer to the max, and then head to UW-Madison to major in education. He isn’t sure what he’ll teach or if he’ll become a school counselor. But, he knows that coaching is in his future. He is an amazing athlete, and we are so proud of the adult he is becoming.

–FullPlateMom, who can’t believe her first baby is a full grown adult!

Bowen’s 11th Birthday Trip to the Asian Market

Bowen celebrated his 11th birthday today!

Image of a black letter board with white lettering. Letters spell out 'Happy Birthday Bowen! U R THE BEST. We love you so much! 11 years'

Bowen has quite a few things he loves, and many of them are related to China, his homeland. So, it was pretty on brand for him to ask for a trip to the Asian Market near us for his 11th birthday. He wanted to pick up all his favorite goodies. He loaded up on noodle bowls, and bao buns, and so many other good things. He and Tess wandered the aisles for a long time debating their purchases. They were kind enough to pick up items for Cate and Gigi too.

Image of Bowen, a small Asian boy with Dwarfism, bent down choosing two bowls of noodles from the bottom shelf of a grocery aisle. His sister, Tess, a small Asian girl with long black hair is standing in the background. She is wearing a plaid flannel shirt and holding a multi-pack of dried seaweed under her arm.

For dinner? Kentucky Fried Chicken. He’s American too, y’all.

–FullPlateMom, who loves that Bo loves the best of both his worlds.

Bo Gets Back In The Water: A Return to Swimming

Bo is back in the water! He is returning to swimming. Bowen in a nationally ranked Junior Paralympic swimmer. In fact, he is a champion in some events. We feel like it is safe for Bowen to get back in the water again as COVID-19 is winding down. He has had his first vaccine. Numbers here are falling quickly as our community clamors for the vaccine. The club Bo swims for is taking great care of their swimmers.

So, he got back in the water.

Bowen, an Asian boy with Dwarfism, is wearing a red swim suit and holding a blue kick board. He has a cap and goggles on his head and is slowly lowering himself into the pool.

And, it was like he never left. So, after a couple of weeks of training, we entered him into a Paralympic-sanctioned event locally. It was about 90 minutes away. He and I drove out together so he could compete.

Bowen, an Asian boy with Dwarfism, is wearing a red racing swim suit and white swim cap. He is bent down in the starting position on a swim block, ready to dive into the pool.

Y’all, he brought home times that qualified him for Junior Nationals swimming in Denver! He is so proud!

Bowen, an Asian boy with Dwarfism, is walking on the sidewalk. He has a white mask with blue print on it. He has a t-shirt and grey joggers on. He is wearing Adidas slides. On his back is a black mesh backpack. His backpack has many ribbons and awards hanging from the loop at the top.

So, Joe and I talked at length about all that Bo gave up this past year, and all that he is about to give up. He missed his last year at his elementary school, which was a bummer for him, but it wasn’t such a bummer for his dad and I. We have had to help him traverse the waters of bullying for a long time. Next school year he is supposed to move on to a middle school in our neighborhood, the same one all his brothers and sisters attended. He won’t be going. We have chosen an online public charter school for him.

At first, he was really upset about this. Now, he feels better about it. He doesn’t want to be a target either. Finding success in swimming has made him less of a target. It has given him a huge amount of self-confidence. That is so worth the trip to Denver, and more.

–FullPlateMom, who can’t wait to shout “GO BO GO!”