April 18, 2008

Ma is Coming to Visit

Posted in family, transgender, travel at 9:30 pm by Michael

I’ve been in Boston this week again for work.

I’m writing this sitting in seat 5C, JetBlue 497, back to Seattle. Back to Anh, back to Peri, back to John, back to Samwich.

I really miss them when I travel for work, and they can’t come with me.

This week when I called back home, Samwich started talking on the phone. I sung to him, he started talking back, and saying “Hi There!”. He whispers into the phone, and it melts my heart.

I realize that my blogging has slowed considerably in the past month. Here’s the deal: my job is taking a ton of my time, and I’ve been completely wiped out at night, and I’d rather spend time with Anh and the kids.

My mom gets worried when I don’t blog – she worries that there’s something wrong. She hates it when we talk and she asks me how I am and I say “Fine”. That’s in some ways code for “there’s something going on that I can’t explain right now”. I avoid saying “Fine”.

When we were in RI last month visiting Ma, Anh invited her to come out and visit.

I was in Boston this week for work, and she came back with me (JetBlue – my standard flight).

She met me at the Microsoft office, and came up to visit (she likes seeing where I work…).

Before she came, I had mentioned to a few people that my mom was coming today. Its funny, I think that folks were just as interested to meet her as she was to meet them. To sum up my mom, I told them the following story:

“When you meet my mom, I will say “Hi, this is my mom, Hilda”, and she’ll immediately say “Just call me Ma.” “

Guess what? I know my mom.

She hung out with me at the office for a while, and then we headed to the airport. We were walking to the elevator, and I said to her “Come on Mother.” (This is a loving way to talk to her – really…) She said to me “Coming Daughter.”

She and I hadn’t really been around each other much since November. We got in really early to the airport, and went to just sit down, and we caught up. We talked, we both got a little weepy – talking about my dad – and how he’d feel about his newest daughter. Ma loved the post that I made about the Superbowl, and talking football with my dad, and also the Homecoming post that I made when we went back to visit last month.

At one point, she said to me: “You know, just sitting here, looking at you, in the different light, you are really beautiful.”

She’s my mom. She’s biased.


Disney: Did anyone notice?

Posted in family, Identification, transgender at 9:30 pm by Michael

Besides being recognized a few times, nobody cared. Anh and I have talked about this one quite a bit. We think there are at least two reasons why:
– We don’t make it a big deal. E.g. when we check in to a hotel and they ask “one bed or two” (and its just us – not w/the chitlins), we smile and say “one”. Done.
– Admittedly, we have the resources to go places where people don’t give us a hard time. Yes, this is a privilege – no doubt. But, interesting to point out none the less.

Disney: Siblings

Posted in family, travel at 9:29 pm by Michael

Peri and John are both great distractions and entertainment for Samwich, and he for them as well. They have done very well together – and they get that we need to think about what rides/attractions will be fun for him. We tend to alternate rides that he can go on or not, and use the “Fastpass” (line skipping) tickets to avoid super long lines.

The flight to Orlando (direct on Alaska) was totally fine, and actually having the older kids there as well as Samwich (we travel more with just him because of our kid schedule) was actually easier than traveling with just him. All three kids have their own backpacks (ok, we carry Samwich’s), and Peri and John each have their own rollaboard suitcase (this works great). They pack themselves (Anh writes a list to help), which means that they take clothes that they will wear.

Plane food is a pain these days (there is none) on long haul domestic flights, so we are always looking for a solution for that. This time, Peri got instant couscous (just add hot water) in a paper disposable cup (like ramen) – it was good, and she did great with it.


April 12, 2008

“I didn’t know you changed your last name too!”

Posted in transgender, work at 2:57 pm by Michael

Yesterday at work I was in a meeting where everyone didn’t know each other – I knew most everyone, but not *everyone*. I had been joking around with one of the other women there… basically being a pain. No surprise.”

When it came time for me to introduce myself, I said “Hi, I’m Megan Troublemaker.”

Without missing a beat, Betsy said:

“I didn’t know you changed your last name too!”


I almost fell off my chair laughing.

I pass this along for a couple reasons:

a) funny

b) my transition is transparent at work, and people have become so comfy with it, they joke with me about it.

Pretty cool!

Samwich in Disney: Fun or Not?

Posted in family, Samwich, travel at 8:10 am by Michael

In summary – yes, Samwich has had fun….

Monday we spent the day in the Magic Kingdom. The first ride we brought him on was “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh”. We basically brought him on every ride that he was allowed go to on that didn’t have a height limitation (because he would get ejected like some sort of slobbering projectile if not properly restrained). We were in the park from basically 930am till 1030pm (right after the fireworks). Not once, except for during the fireworks did he get scared – and there, he just jumped for the first “bang”, but then he was ok.

One of the things that he surprisingly loved were the Disney strollers. Because of their shape, he was able to sit up most of the time, and he looked like the little king, viewing his domain. From the back, all I could see sometime were his little hands flapping outside the walls of the stroller. It was hilarious!

Now, I had thought that watching him Monday that he was just tolerating the rides. He had this expression on his face like “Yeah, whatever, I’m the Samwich”. He only got excited really when playing with his brother and sister (below…)… until Wednesday.

We walked around the corner, and he saw the Dumbo Flying Elephants doing their never-ending circle. He pointed, and did his greeting: “Hi There!”, and started yapping excitedly at them. You would have thought they were made of grapes or chocolate or something… he was INTO it. As the week went on, his love of all things spinning increased.

Toward the end of the week, when he saw the fireworks, he was captivated. He’d sit there, quietly, just staring at the bursts, listening to the music. I’m not sure he’ll ever remember it, but I will.

He did totally fine in the heat (high 80’s) – we just sunblock him up, are careful (not too careful) with direct sunlight for long, keep him hydrated with water and milk (Foogo thermos/straw cup), let him walk and find things for him to do (like the little play areas – he’s into those!), and it’s all good!

April 6, 2008

Disney Food Experience

Posted in family, food, travel at 5:02 pm by Michael

Yes, you can find reasonable food in the Disney parks (Reasonable: not all fried, some greens or at least fruit, not ultra fatty). Our usual “Don’t eat bad food” rule has to get suspended a bit (note, bad doesn’t mean expensive – it just means to make food part of the experience – trying to eat as local, or at least as well as possible given the locale).

Here’s where we ate::

Off Property

Nacho’s Grill – near the Outlet Malls, in Orlando
– Reasonably authentic Cuban and Mexican food… even given the cheesy name, this place was good – the nachos were fresh, the rice was good, and the service quick!

Magic Kingdom

Tomorrowland Terrace and Noodle Station
– Who knew? Asian in Disney… A reasonable simulacrum of Chinese/Asian food, but better than a burger (we had noodle soup, teriyaki chicken/beef with rice – all not bad!)

Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café
– There were three “bays” here (Its “Tomorrowland” after all) – “Burger”, “Chicken”, and “Soup/Salad”. We had “Bay 2 – Chicken”, and there was roti chicken and ribs, served with green beans (canned) and also mashed potato. The chicken was moist, and Samwich was loving the green beans. Mmmm… fiber!

El Pirata Y El Perico
– Ok, sounds super cheezy. They have three things basically – beef tacos, vegetable tacos, taco salad (all in hard shells). The cool thing is that they have a “topping bar” with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, salsa and hot sauce, so you can salad-ify virtually everything. For kids meals, they had cheese quesadillas which were clearly microwaved, because they got hard instantly (a definite pass).

Disney’s Hollywood Studios (aka Disney/MGM)

Brown Derby
– Home of the Cobb Salad (the real one in California at least)…. We did have the Cobb Salad, I thought it was ok, Anh thought they crossed the “chopped/minced” line, and it tasted like tabbouleh.


– The couscous here was “The Best Couscous I Ever Had” according to Peri. Now, take this with a grain of couscous. When Peri likes something, its generally “The Best X I Ever Had”… but, still, high praise. We had couscous with both lamb and chicken (the chicken was whole, and the lamb was a roasted shank, which was moist). Anh had the chicken kabobs which were well flavored, but were dry.

Grand Floridian

– One of two higher end restaurants at the GF (The third, ultra high end place is “Victoria and Alberts, which is prix fixe ($125/pp), and has its own reservation line, no kids allowed, and a jackets/cocktail dresses dress code. Not owning a cocktail dress, this was right out.) We had dinner here with all the kids, and to start with, the service was very kid friendly, and very good. Drinks (mixed) were also surprisingly good (pomegranate cosmo for Anh – nice and bitter). John had shrimp which were sautéed – he loved it – although it looked a little rich. I had the braised veal, which was reasonable, but could have been more tender and more extreme in its flavors (more of something – more wine, more garlic, more something – it didn’t stand for much). All up, this was a good choice with kids though – the service saved it, as did the “make it your own” sundae’s for the them. From a food point of view, it was ok, but from an experience point of view (with all three kids), it was good.

– We actually ate here twice. The first time, we had “adult dinner’, and the second time, we brought back the whole family. Note that this place is “on the lake”, and has a view of the fireworks, so tables tend to be held through the fireworks (i.e., it’s hard to get a reservation, or have the reservation work well if its 60-90 mins before fireworks time – since fireworks were generally at 10pm when we were there, this meant that 830-9pm was crunch time there).

Fundamentally, the reason why we ate here twice was the staff. The first night, our server was Diane, and we struck up a lively conversation with her about wine. The fried calamari was fresh and tasty, served with onions, olives and hot peppers. Over the two nights, we had the steak (fair), as well as tilefish, lobster tail, and a couple of other things. However, the real killer here (for the kids at least) was dessert. They had a “make your own S’Mores” big kid dessert, which they *loved* (we brought them in for dinner after we ate the first night). Diane and Sam made us a reservation for the next night (and Sam got us a wine list from Victoria and Albert’s, which we ordered from). If you go, say hi to both of them for us, they were both sweethearts.

When we went to “adult dinner”, Peri and John were at “The Mouseketeer Club” at the GF, which was a room with toys/games/movies/crafts that was attended and had about 6 other kids there when we dropped them off. Reservations for this can be made through the Disney Dining line (800-WDW-DINE). This was $11/hour per kid. Samwich had an in-room sitter that we arranged through the resort. They charged $16/hour. This has to be made through a separate service, but was backed by Disney.

The Yuk List

Magic Kingdom: Columbia Harbor House
– All fried, all the time. Fried chicken, fried fish… we didn’t have a lot of options. They did have two salads, and they would make them fresh (you can remove stuff…)

Kennedy Space Center: Café
– Going here made me appreciate the organization that Disney brings to the table for food service for a lot of people.


A special note of our favorite snack at the Magic Kingdom – “Pineapple Dole Whip” – which is pineapple soft serve ice cream. Yum. This can be found right across from the “Swiss Family Robinson” tree house, in Adventureland.

We’re Back

Posted in family, life, travel at 6:31 am by Michael


We got back late last night from Orlando – about an hour and a half later than expected due to thunderstorms in the Orlando area…

I know I’ve been dark all week – no, I didn’t stop the blog, get eaten by aliens, or do something crazy. I unplugged for a week…

So, over the next day, I’ll post about our experiences in Disney, from going with three kids (1, 8, 10), the food, and the “experience” (oh, and getting recognized, which is *odd*)….