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What are your names and your child’s name and age?

We are Geof (grey shirt), Peter (black shirt),  and our daughter Olivia is 19 months old. 

How did you decide on your daughter’s name?

I always loved the scene in the movie, The Color Purple, when the adoptive mother tells the birthmother that her little girl’s name is Olivia.

How did you decide what Olivia would call you?

It’s all about equality for us so we both are called Daddy.

How did you decide her last name? Is it hyphenated? Only after one parent?

I took my husbands name by hyphenating. We gave Olivia my husbands name since his family is far more accepting than my father is at the moment.  I felt he didn’t deserve that honour if he didn’t appreciate having a grandchild.

What were you most afraid of about becoming a parent?

Not knowing what we’re doing.  I’m a full-time stay at home dad and my husband works.

What is the most rewarding part of being a parent?

Seeing our happy child.

What do you do for fun as an entire family?

We take long walks and we visit with family.

What was a “must have” item you used when Olivia was little?

 A Baby Brezza Formula Pro!!!

Describe your parenting styles. Is one parent stricter?

Since we’re older parents I think we’re more laid back and relaxed.  We both have similar discipline styles.

Finish this sentence with one word… “To me, family is….”

Everything

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Milo will be turning four (yes four years old!) this June and we cannot believe how quickly time has flown by! It feels like he was just a little baby only a few months ago, and now he is becoming this little boy with such a huge personality! He says, “Papa, Dada look! I have hair on my arms!” He literally is turning into a little man before our eyes and we want it to stop!! Time can slow down at any point!

Where did our little baby go?!

If someone told us before, “Your kid going potty will be the most exciting thing ever!” We would have said, “That’s so gross!” Now any time Milo goes a night without a pee and goes to the toilet on his own, we are the most ecstatic parents ever!! It is amazing what things we start to celebrate since becoming parents!

Since becoming dads, there are a few things that we have learned along the way. Becoming a parent means you will eat lots and lots of pizza. Pizza for dinner, pizza for lunch, pizza at birthday parties. We swear we have never ate so much pizza in our life than we have probably within these last few years!

When becoming a parent, you will also get to spend a lot of time at kids birthday parties! Every weekend is usually spent in a room full of loud toddlers bouncing off of some form or something. You will form a relationship with the owner of the jumpy castle place and be on first name terms with them,

“Hey Bob, great seeing you again!”

“See you again next week BJ?” 

“Absolutely!”

Being a parent means spending lots of time at the park and you will soon learn of every single park in your town or city! You can push your kid in the swing for hours on end and they will never tire. You will get biceps like Arnold Schwarzenegger circa 1970!

This is eight minutes apparently

Transition times; what are those you ask? Well you need to start preparing to leave anywhere at least an hour before you actually have to leave and give warnings. “Milo, we are leaving in half an hour!” Which is usually followed up with a, “No, in eight minutes!” We need to work on his counting skills! Hopefully there is no meltdown that occurs. And don’t get me started on trying to get him dressed before we go out! That itself is a whole other post!

Patience is a virtue. Although having all the patience in the world will sometimes get you no where! There is nothing like a meltdown in the middle of dinner because a certain someone all of a sudden doesn’t like cheese on their broccoli, or he wants more ketchup on the plate. Give us the strength to get through this one meal!

There allegedly was not enough water in his cup. Poor guy!

Bedtime seems to get earlier and earlier for us, but later and later for Milo. We are clonked out by 8 pm (that is super late for us now!) but Milo stays up well past 10 pm! One of us usually falls asleep before Milo does! Gone are the late night days. A great night is everyone going to bed early and sleeping the entire night, uninterrupted!

But one thing no one ever warned us about becoming a parent is how much love you have for your child. You see them grow, develop, get taller, become smarter and stronger. Not to mention heavier!  It honestly hurts how much we love him. We look at Milo and wonder what he will be or look like when he grows up. We try to stop those thoughts because we want to relish these moments of “huggies” and “kissies” from him now before he says, “Stop! Don’t kiss me!” Enjoy every single moment. Time goes by so quick you will soon be a grandparent and be like, “What the hell?! I swear I was 40 years old like only five years ago!”

Oh, and take lots of videos!

Happy 4th Birthday Bubbaloo! Daddy and Papa love you so much! xxoo

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What are your names and your child’s name and age?

Patrick (the one wearing Mickey) 30, Joel (Donald) 31, and Greyson 2.

How did you decide on your son’s name?

Greyson came from a family name of a TV show that we were obsessed with, Revenge.  Greyson’s middle name, Eli, is my first nephew’s name (Elijah). When we first met, Joel said that he knew he always wanted to be a parent but it wasn’t until he saw how close my nephew and I were that he realized he wanted to be a parent with me.  That’s when we were 17 and 18.

How did you decide what Greyson would call you?

We actually struggled with this for a long time.  I wanted to be Daddy and Joel was going to be Dad. After a lot of talking we decided that Joel would be “Daddy” and I would be “Papa”.  Papa reminded me of what I called my grandfather, “Paw-Paw”. My Paw-Paw was my hero and if Greyson loves and respects me even half as much as I loved that man, I’ll have won as a parent.

How did you decide his last name? Is it hyphenated? Only after one parent?

I changed my name when Joel and I got married.  I didn’t want our son to have a hyphenated name or a name that was different than my own.  I moved my last name “Angus” to middle name and took Joel’s last name.

What were you most afraid of about becoming a parent?

That I would suck at it.  Being a father is the thing I’m most proud of but I was horrified that I would some how not live up to our son’s expectations or inadvertently fail him.

What is the most rewarding part of being a parent?

Raising a confident, strong-willed, affectionate, and fearless child.  He walks into a room and isn’t shy or afraid. He hasn’t met a stranger (which will make the “stranger danger” conversations difficult in the future).

What do you do for fun as an entire family?

We spend a lot of time outdoors either playing in the water with super soakers or sprinklers or just rolling down the hill and getting covered in grass.  I think Greyson could stay outdoors the entire day if we let him. His face gets super red when he’s hot so we’ll usually transition to his play room to cool down or our back porch with the fans on.  We stay very active but even just cuddling inside while reading a book or watching Blippi YouTube videos is fun because we’re together and our son is full of personality.

What was a “must have” item you used when Greyson was little? Or now that they are older?

The Baby-Breeza (basically a Keurig for formula) is the greatest thing we had.  You’d push a button and a perfect heated bottle of formula would be filled and ready for feeding within seconds.  It made those 12, 3, and 6AM feedings so much easier. They’re pricey but thanks to points that we accumulated from our Babies-R-Us (RIP) registry, we got it really cheap.  The other thing is our video monitor. You can’t put a price tag on the peace of mind that a video monitor brings. I wish we wouldn’t have purchased a diaper genie or wipe warmer.  The diaper genie was more hassle than what it’s worth and the wipe warmer crippled us for the longest time because how often do you have warm wipes available when you need really need them.

Describe your parenting styles. Is one parent stricter?

Unfortunately, many fathers have assumed the labels of part-time parents.  This is evident in ALL books about raising a child, potty training, feeding, scheduling, etc.  To this day, we still get comments like “Oh, dad must be giving mommy a break” or “It’s daddy’s day”.  We decided early on that we were equal parents with equal responsibilities. I primarily do baths and laundry and Joel focuses on education (thank God he’s a teacher) and keeping our social calendar full.  Other than that the workload is split. We both have an equal responsibility in ensuring that Greyson is raised to be a well-mannered, respectful child. We don’t play “good cop” or “bad cop”.

Finish this sentence with one word… “To me, family is….”

To me, family is everything.

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1) What are your names and your child’s name and age?

I’m Jonathan, my husband is Mitchell (gray hair) and our Son Mark is 2 years old.

2) How did you decide on your child’s name?

Picking his name was the hardest. We wanted it to be a strong name something that sounded good with Dr. in front of it, Dr. Mark Henry Holmes (sounds good, right?)

3) How did you decide what your child would call you?

Deciding how Mark would address us was difficult. I’m Daddy and Mitch is Papa. We knew calling us by our names wouldn’t work for us and we wanted something “family centric” so we decided on that.

4) How did you decide your child’s last name? Is it hyphenated? Only after one parent?

Last name was easy. He has my last name because Mitch felt Beier was too difficult growing up. So we went with mine, Holmes. 

5) What were you most afraid of about becoming a parent?

I was most afraid of being prepared and how we would answer questions about our family when he gets older. Mitch was worried about the same and we were both worried “will he like us”.

6)What is the most rewarding part of being a parent?

Watching him learn and grow. His successes are the most rewarding.

7) What do you do for fun as an entire family?

For fun we like to go on adventures. We love the aquariums and the zoos but we also enjoy going places like parks and the beach.

8) What was a “must have” item you used when he was little? Or now that he is older?

Must have item was his turtle when he was new born. It’s a night light that plays soothing ocean sounds and casts an ocean on the ceiling. He loved it. Now, must haves are his trucks and cars and his Woobie.

9) Describe your parenting styles. Is one parent stricter?   

Mitch is definitely stricter than I am. We allow him to be him. We allow him to play and get into stuff and explore. He is now at the stage where he tests his limits (all the time) so I am learning that I can’t let him get away with everything.

10) Finish this sentence with one word… “To me, family is….”

To me, family is, the most important thing in my life. Making sure our son is prepared for the world and that we raise a young man that is kind, loving and compassionate are our primary responsibilities. I think this is true for any parent. We are no exception to this rule no matter the construct of our family dynamic.

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1) What are your name(s) and your how old are your kids?

John, Ross, Hugo (3.5), Eloise & Oliver (2)

2) How did you decide on your children’s names?

We wanted strong, old names that reflected our heritage, while the middle names come from family names.  

3) How did you decide what your children would call you?

It took some time to come to this conclusion. Ross would be dad for his English heritage and John would be papa for his French heritage.

4) How did you decide their last name?  

We hyphenated our name shortly after getting married so that we and our children would all share the same family name with us.

5) What were you most afraid of about becoming a parent?

What most new parents are afraid of, being a good parent, ensuring all the children’s needs are met and eventually have them ready to go out into the world as compassionate, good people.

6) What is the most rewarding part of being a parent?

It’s so hard to pin point the most rewarding thing.  Is it when they look at you with their big eyes and you know how much they love you? Or is it when you see them do something loving and caring for their sibling or another kid? Is it when you see them achieve a milestone and something they have been working so hard to do? I don’t think I could pick just one thing.

7) What do you do for fun as an entire family?

Head down to the park, have sunday morning cuddles, or watch a family favourite movie together.

8) What is a “must have” item your kids use?

Their blankies for bedtime.  Still a comfort for all three of them to this day.

9) Describe your parenting styles. Is one parent stricter?

Firm but fair.  We do our best to parent as consistently as possible.

10) Finish this sentence with one word… “To me, family is….”

… everything.

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Men Having Babies (MHB) is an international non-profit organization that has helped thousands of gay men worldwide become biological parents. On June 9-10th, 2018, with the help of several leading LGBT groups from Florida, the organization is bringing its comprehensive Surrogacy Seminar & Gay Parenting Expo to Florida for prospective gay parents in the USA!

The event will be held June 9-10th and is based on the successful model of programs Men Having Babies has already organized in NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, Brussels, Dallas, and Tel Aviv. These conferences are primarily focused on biological parenting options for gay men, and designed to provide unbiased information and access to reputable and ethical professionals who can help with the process.

The Fort Lauderdale conference kicks off with a panel discussion comprised of gay surrogacy dads and the surrogates who helped them in their journeys. In addition, the conference will feature, for the first time in Florida, a panel of teenagers born via surrogacy to gay parents. This program, open to the community at large, is offered in a partnership with the Outspoken Generation program of Family Equality Council.

Where is the event?

GalleryOne – A DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel

2670 East Sunrise Boulevard

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 33304

When is the event?

June 9th, 2018, 2:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

and June 10th, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.   

Want more information?

Visit menhavingbabies for registration and additional information.

About Men Having Babies

With over 7000 future and current gay parents worldwide, the international nonprofit Men Having Babies (MHB) is dedicated to providing its members with educational and financial support. Each year over a thousand attendees benefit from unbiased guidance and access to a wide range of relevant service providers at its monthly workshops and conferences in NY, Chicago, Brussels, San Francisco and Tel Aviv. The organization’s Gay Parenting Assistance Program(GPAP) annually provides dozens of couples with over a million dollars’ worth of cash grants, discounts and free services from over fifty leading service providers. Collaborating with an advisory board made of surrogates, MHB developed a framework for Ethical Surrogacy that has received endorsements from several LGBT parenting organizations worldwide. In addition, MHB offers extensive online resources, a directory with ratings and reviews of agencies and clinics, a Surrogacy Speakers Bureau, and a vibrant online community forum.

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Please come back and visit us for “Family Snapshots”

Contact us at hello@familyisaboutlove.com if you want to be featured!

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As a family, one of our favourite things to do is go travelling. We have been very fortunate to visit many countries, experience many different cultures, and see the beauty our world has to offer.

The one country that we love to visit is Mexico. The food, the people, the weather are all things we fall in love with over and over again each time we visit.  Before Milo became a part of our family, we would visit Puerto Vallarta. Now as a family, we look for places that cater to children, and that are safe.

Our favourite place to get away to in Mexico as a family is a tiny island called Isla Mujeres.

Isla Mujeres, “Island of Women” is honestly one of the only places that we feel is a true relaxing, escape. It is a small island, roughly 6 kilometres (4 miles) long, and about a half hour ferry ride from Cancun across the Bahia de Mujeres, “Bay of Women”.

We stumbled upon this island a few years back when visiting Cancun. We instantly fell in love when our feet touched the sand. We said that if we ever came back to Cancun, we would only stay on the island. Cancun is not for us; it is overpopulated, loud, and does not have that true Mexican vibe. Perhaps if we were single and in our twenties it would be a different story!

Isla Mujeres is the complete opposite of that of Cancun. It is a quiet, small island with it’s Mexican culture still in tact. In years past we went as a family, and this past March two of our dearest friends joined us with their families! We had the best time!

There are many places to stay on the island, however in our opinion, the best place to stay as a family is at NautiBeach Condos on Playa Norte “North Beach.” Playa Norte is listed as one of the top beaches in the world! The fine sand, crystal clear shallow waters and gorgeous sunsets make it an ideal spot for families with young children. When on the island, we rent a unit at NautiBeach Condos. You cannot beat the location! There are only 30 units in the complex, so it is very quiet. There are walk out units that are steps to a gorgeous pool, an onsite restaurant, and literally two steps onto the beach. In years past, we stayed on the third floor that has a spectacular view of the beach, however next year (yes we already booked!) we will be staying in one of the walk out units that has an ocean view and walks out to the pool. It is easier for everyone, and we won’t have to lug everything up and down the stairs. Other than the location and view, we love that each unit has a full kitchen. We can cook meals and save a bit of money while away.

  

The best way to get around the island is renting a golf cart. You can rent them by the day or the week and even have them delivered to your hotel which is super convenient! We rented our cart from Isla Mujeres Golf Cart Rentals. We usually rent it for 2-3 days, do a big grocery shop and drive around and explore the island. There is a giant grocery store approximately 15 minutes away from Playa Norte that carries everything you will need. There is a smaller grocery store in town if you do not have a golf cart and if you need last minute items. Just be mindful at how much you buy as you have to pack the cart up with all the groceries!

You can drive around the entire island in about an hour non stop but there are too many great things to stop and look at along the way. We like to leave early and head down to our favourite breakfast place, Polo’s Mango Cafe. There is a spectacular view from inside the church across the street you can also check out. After breakfast we head south and drive along the ocean. There are look out points to stop at to grab your scenic view pic or grab that ocean selfie! There are gorgeous houses that overlook the ocean that you can ogle at and dream of owning!

Sculptures at Ponte Sur Claudia giving Milo a massage on the beach

Continuing south along the ocean, will bring you to Punta Sur, “South Point”. You can go and explore art sculptures, see ruins of the Ixchel temple, climb down the stairs and walk along the ocean cliffside.  After exploring here, we start heading back north and go to one of our favourite places to take Milo. The Tortugranja or “Turtle Sanctuary” is perfect for young children and young at heart adults. You can feed the turtles, learn about their life cycle, and have the opportunity to hold and touch sea animals. It’s a great way to pass a couple hours and keep the kids entertained.  By this time it’s late afternoon and everyone is ready to head back to the beach to relax. You can go to your room, have a quick bite to eat and head to the beach to chill out for the rest of the day.

Milo snorkeling with the face mask on

Prior to vacation, we purchased snorkeling face masks. These masks are perfect for kids, and adults to use! You don’t have to worry about breathing in water or the glass fogging up. Isla has some of the most perfect waters for snorkeling and scuba diving. We walked down to the pier and hired a man with a boat to take us around the island to go snorkeling. It worked out way cheaper doing it this way rather than booking through a tour company. He brought us to the lighthouse, and to the underwater museum. The waves at the south end of the island where the underwater museum is were a bit rocky, so if you don’t have a strong stomach, beware! If you are not so fond of the deep waters, or your kids are afraid, there is a lagoon to the east of Playa Norte that is PERFECT for kids to snorkel in. It is at the foot of the Mia Reef Isla Mujeres hotel. It is a protected lagoon that is very shallow (waist deep). Bring crackers or bread and feed it to the fish! They swarm around you and it’s THE best way to get up close and personal with the fish.

One of our favourite memories being on the island is spending time with our friends. We all had the best time together. On our last night, we had dinner on the beach and watched the sunset go down. Isla Mujeres is truly a wonderful place to visit, relax and unwind. We are looking forward to returning next year!

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“Family Is About Love” means to us that all families are created differently, but the one thing they all have in common is love to share for each other. There is no right way to have a family, or who makes up a family. Your family doesn’t necessarily have to be blood relatives. Your family are the ones who love and support you no matter what and offer unconditional love. Every family is unique and that is what makes them so special. We want “Family Is About Love” to mean to others to just treat everyone with dignity and respect. Be kind to one another and respect each other’s differences. Every family is unique and we should celebrate that.

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Every second Wednesday in April marks the International Day of Pink. The International Day of Pink is a day of action, born when a youth in a high school in Cambridge, Nova Scotia was bullied because he wore a pink shirt to school. His fellow students decided to stand up to bullying, and hundreds of students came to school wearing pink to show support for diversity and stopping discrimination, gender-based bullying, homophobia, transphobia and transmisogyny.

Photo Cred: The International Day Of Pink

Discrimination against anyone, no matter of age, race, religious beliefs or sexual orientation is something that we all should stand up to and speak out against. Every day around the world, countless LGBTQ people are victimized, shamed, beat up and even killed just for being who they are. Recently in Miami, a gay friendly city, a gay couple were attacked after a gay pride parade for just holding hands.

A giant pink shirt cake to feed 200 people we made.

We are very lucky to live in Toronto. It is a city that is open, welcoming and accepting. Annually, Toronto holds one of the largest Pride events in the world.  Although we feel safe to live here, there still are people who are not so open and accepting of our type of family. It is important for us to be out and open, not only in our community, but also at work.

As educators, this is a very important day raise awareness. We hold “Day of Pink” events at our schools to get all our students involved and participate in activities that our Gay/Straight Alliances plan. We hope that holding these events will help create dialogue and open discussion around discrimination and bullying.

Frank celebrating Day of Pink at work.

Growing up, I was bullied for being different. I always knew I was gay, and I tried to keep it a secret as best as I could. I was afraid to be myself. I was afraid I would be outed. I just wanted to blend in. If I only had the knowledge and confidence that I have now, life would have been so different.  I often think back on my experiences growing up; all the name calling, the taunting and teasing, and I think because of that, it has made me the person who I am today. I am proud that I am out. I am proud that I can be a positive role model to my students. I am proud that I have a loving relationship and a father to the best little boy. I am proud and lucky that I get to live in a country that recognizes and me as a person and accepts my family.

BJ celebrating Day of Pink at work.

I just hope that this work we do in our schools and communities opens the eyes of those students who may not be so accepting, and that we can inspire even just one student who is afraid to be them self can see it’s perfectly normal to be different.

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