When I was 24 I had a job in event management, I traveled a couple weeks out of the month going to events like the MTV Movie Awards, The Grammy’s, and VH1 Awards, there was never a dull moment in my twenty somethings. I got up at 5AM and stayed out until 2AM, it was a rock-n-roll life! One day they told me I had to go on a Disney cruise with a bunch of executives and their families and I thought I was going to die! The idea of being stuck on a ship with a bunch of sick kids (they were always sniffling in my mind) was mortifying. Everyday for a couple weeks leading up to the big trip I would go home after work and scheme with my wife on how to get out of it. But I simply couldn’t escape my fate, I flew to Florida and begrudgingly boarded the Disney Dream! Much to my surprise I came back from the trip with a burning desire to have kids and return to a Disney cruise. I couldn’t believe how much fun I had and was envious of all the parents and their children. For years I have been telling my wife how much she is going to love it. When our twins turned 6-years-old, my wife decided we were at the perfect age to go on the adventure I had been envisioning for our family. Luck would have it (and perhaps some visualizations) that I would be invited by Disney Social Media Moms to participate in an epic trip to the Disney parks and Disney Dream cruise the very same year that Susan and I thought the kids were ready! So the question is did the children love it as much as I did…
We arrived early and did the Disney parks for 3 days, we hopped from Magic Kingdom to Epcot to Hollywood Studios to my personal favorite Animal Kingdom leaving not one single fastpass on the table. The twins were inaugurated into Space Mountain and Splash Mountain. You’d think they’d SKIED down a mountain when they got off those rides, they were so proud and announced it to all the passers by. And we rode those rides again and again and again. We watched parades and bought “the bucket”, if you don’t know what this is, watch the video below, it was truly magical for us! Speaking of magic, it is in Disney’s DNA. Every employee, every encounter was nothing but positive and happy with one special moment after the next. We were even spontaneously given a fastpass by the lady selling us popcorn!
SUSAN FELL IN LOVE 😍| The Next Family - YouTube
After the fairydust fastpass to Space Mountain we walked out to the surprise of fireworks on my birthday no less! Did my wife plan that?! It was truly wondrous.
WE HIT A WALL 😜 The Next Family - YouTube
The Disney parks brought out the kid in all of us. We giggled, we skipped and my wife even taught the kids how to fake bang into walls while waiting in line (see vlog above for the silliness!)
And then…it was time for the cruise.
The Disney staff announced our family as we boarded the boat and everyone cheered. Our kids ran to the windows to confirm that we were actually floating on water! The kids bellied up to the bar (because you can do that on a Disney Cruise!) and ordered a round of sparkling ciders for all.
THE KIDS WENT TO A BAR 🤢| The Next Family - YouTube
The whole trip was so relaxing and the service from the staff was as good as it can get! I realized halfway through the cruise that most of the time children are ignored by adults at restaurants, in hotels, in stores but not on the Disney cruise, they looked at my children before they even looked at me sometimes and I really appreciated that, it made our children feel included and noticed and understood which is something that my wife and I work hard on in our daily lives. We want our kids to feel like a part of the decisions that we make as a family.
We celebrated Pirate Night with the kids and don’t believe what people say about buying expensive elaborate outfits that break the bank, our oldest made our costumes for us and we fit right in!
The only one that we actually purchased a dress for was our younger twin daughter Bella. We couldn’t resist.
Between kids karaoke at night, Castaway Cay during the day and waterslides in between we were more than entertained. The Broadway style shows, the movies, the fireworks and the surprises that popped in our room, it was a kid AND a mom’s dream!
So is it worth it? Yes! Did the kids love it? Yes! Would we do it again? Without question!
My wife is Jewish and more than any religion I identify with Santa and Christmas. I was raised with more of an Eastern sense of spirituality. I started meditating when I was eight years old (although I’m admittedly not so consistent with it now). My parents never introduced me to Church or Temple; that came later, when my friends invited me to get to know their worlds better. So while we celebrated Christmas, it was a pretty mellow event.
When Susan and I had kids, we discussed the importance of sharing our spiritual and/or religious and cultural upbringings with them so that they could better understand their family history and range of beliefs. The High Holy Days and traditions of Passover and Hanukkah hold fond memories for my wife, and though she doesn’t necessarily subscribe wholesale to Judaism, she wants our kids to experience those same sweet traditions that she had growing up.
In an effort to celebrate the best of both worlds, we celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah in our family: Chrismukkah! We sing Christmas carols as well as Hanukkah songs, and have even changed the lyrics to the song “The 12 Days of Christmas” to “The Eight Days of Hanukkah,” with silly lyrics that we wrote together as a family. We go to a Christmas Mass on occasion and strangely, I cry every time. I get such a huge emotional surge when I’m surrounded by so many strangers, all from different walks of life, gathered together in the spirit of kindness, unity and love. We want our children to understand there is a greater purpose to life; that love and kindness should lead you through your days, and that whatever name people may give it—there is a great force, a spirit bigger than us, guiding us along the way.
Without belonging formally to church or a temple, we make an effort to create our own traditions and find ways to celebrate our beliefs. We love Skirball Cultural Center so much year round, but come the holiday season, it becomes even more of an important family destination for us. It is a place where we can gather to celebrate Jewish traditions in a unique way, surrounded by a community of like-minded people. We love watching the kids let loose—dancing and singing, expressing themselves through art and exploring the history of the Jewish people. Skirball openly embraces LGBTQ families like ours and their programming is inclusive to all backgrounds.
This year, Skirball’s Hanukkah Festival: LA/LA is inspired by The Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, exploring the themes of Hanukkah through the traditions of LA’s diverse Latin American communities. Activities include musical performances by Latin Jewish bands, and the opportunity to learn about Mexican chocolate by decorating chocolate gelt. We would love to see your family there! Come celebrate the season with us by honoring the cultural diversity of our neighbors, learn about traditions you might not be familiar with, and maybe go a bit deeper into the ones you hold dear. The festival is on Sunday, December 10th 11:00AM-4:00PM.
Susan and I often say that we don’t feel like grown ups on most days. It still seems crazy that we pay a mortgage and have to fix our AC and have 3 kids! How did it all happen so fast? When we were in our early twenties, I wanted to grow up quickly and buy a house and have children. Now that we are here I wonder how good we really are at being adults. I remember my mother used to tell me that it’s ok to never grow up, to be a kid inside and I now understand what she meant. The weight of the world can hang heavy on us with so many responsibilities that on some days we choose to be silly and goof off. This is one of my favorite things about having kids, they allow you the freedom to relive childhood all over again.
So yes, Susan and I played NEVER HAVE I EVER….
Playing Never Have I Ever! | The Next Family (25/30) - YouTube
Photo Credit: Jennifer Roper Photography (top photo)
Being two moms we often get a lot of questions about the role my wife and I each play in our relationship. “Who is the mom and who is the dad?” is a question we used to hear a lot, less so now but nevertheless people want to understand the dynamics between two women. The best way I can explain our roles as co-parents and spouses is a tag team approach of getting all the crazy day-to-day things done in order to keep our family of five in order. Susan probably falls under the butch category and I the femme but the more I think about these labels the more I don’t want to be defined by them. Over the last decade I have watched relationship roles evolve in straight relationships while the moms take a full time job and dads stay home and take care of the kids. People are defining themselves based on their skillset, their present needs for their family and by who they want to be, not by gender. Times are changing so the nature of the question, in my opinion is dated. We are who we are. But we did attempt to answer this question in a typical Susan and Brandy round about way in this video below from our YouTube channel.
Butch Vs. Femme | The Next Family (20/30) - YouTube
Growing up my mother encouraged open conversations in our house. We talked about anything from periods, to sex, to drugs to suicide. She felt that as long as she knew what I was thinking about and what concerned me that she could help me make better decisions along the way. I think she did! Although awkward at times, I wasn’t afraid to ask my mom questions and although sometimes delayed I have always ultimately shared what is happening in my life with my parents. Coming out took the longest but that’s another story.
My wife and I have a similar goal in our house, we want our children to be able to tell and ask us anything. Well Susan maybe a little less so than me but she will just route the tough questions my way I’m sure. With that in mind, I try to stay ahead of the tough questions, I began talking about our two mom family openly when our kids were in preschool. I tried to keep conversations at their level of curiosity but when they asked I never sheltered them from all the facts. When Sophia (our now 9 year old) asked questions about “how she could have a family without a dad”, I told her about the donor and about how a baby is created with a sperm and an egg and at 7 years old she was able to succinctly explain where she came from.
"How my moms had a baby"- The facts of life from a 7-year-old - YouTube
Now a couple years later we are having open conversations about the beginnings of puberty (very basic stuff like training bras) and we talk about how one day (not anytime soon hopefully) she will be dating. When we have these very casual talks I leave all options open. “You might date a boy or a girl, you might not even know at this point.” and I also try to openly ask her thoughts on the topic. I know some would say it’s too early to be having these conversations but to me if you start them young and you are open about things, it takes all the mystery out of them and allows her to just feel what she wants to feel with no judgement. The other day when we were shooting a vlog, the conversation of her dating boys or girls came up.
Will She Date Boys Or Girls ❤ | The Next Family (17/30) - YouTube
Parenting is so hard! The heartbreak, stress and worries start when you are trying to get pregnant and it NEVER stops! You worry for your child’s safety, you want them to have friends, you want them to be happy, the list goes on! This week I experienced pain and stress like I never have before with my kids. I remember realizing the first time I was in love with my wife Susan, I was in bed waiting for her to come over and I started to worry that something would happen to her, that she was in an accident, the worry came from nowhere and was completely unfounded but in that moment I realized that I was in love. I had a similar feeling with my kids the moment I knew I was pregnant. The heartache that comes from wanting to protect those tiny little humans and has never dissipated. In this Storytime video we talk about why the kids had to start kindergarten twice!
We recently received a comment about a couple splitting up and it brought to mind the topic of divorce. My wife and I are no strangers to the topic of divorce. We’ve had discussions about it a few times and each time was scary, but it was also groundbreaking in our relationship.
In our most recent vlog, we talk about our experiences with discussing divorce and ways in which we’ve managed to not go down that path in our relationship. Dates, couple getaways, therapy, and self-awareness on how we speak to each other has been very helpful to keep our relationship strong and allowing it to grow so that we are a better couple. Not only do we think that personally growing as a couple is important to stave off divorce, but we’re also focusing on growing as individuals. For instance, my wife Susan recently suggested that we take classes and continue learning as adults.
Yes, divorce is a scary topic and it’s a really difficult time for those who go through it. But we think it’s important to discuss it as it makes it less scary if we are open and honest with each other and on the same page — we don’t want to get divorced and we’ll try anything to keep that from happening.
Check out the vlog below and be sure to subscribe:
Our Thoughts On Divorce | The Next Family - YouTube
We like to do roundups of our summer favorites on our Youtube channel. It’s a fun way to show our viewers things we love throughout the year, and it often results in funny conversations.
What inevitably happens every single “Favs” session, is that Susan and I show what happens when two women are married to each other: we tend to steal one another’s favorite stuff or styles. Susan “stole” my favorite joggers, and I “stole” Susan’s face serum.
As we said in the vlog, no matter if you are two women, two men, or a heteronormative couple, when you are married for awhile, you tend to start liking the same stuff and the line between what’s yours and mine slowly fades until it’s just “ours.” Yes, it can lead to small little arguments — but don’t let it! It’s a funny little quirk to marriage that we all go through. Like we tell our kids — sharing is caring, right?
Check out the vlog below and be sure to subscribe!
FAVS ✴ Why It Took So Long To Get Tattoos | The Next Family - YouTube
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