Monthly Archives: March 2014

Jacob’s New Dress is a Hit! A Q&A with authors Sarah & Ian Hoffman

JacobsDressQuotationHave you and your children read Jacob’s New Dress yet? This beautifully illustrated, heartwarming book hit the stores last week (Amazon has been shipping it for longer) and it’s already into its second printing! I recently had the pleasure of chatting with authors, Sarah and Ian Hoffman, about their wonderful work. They are now officially on my “Phenomenal People on Earth” list (and OFC’s recommended children’s book list).  Read on!

OFC: Can you share a little bit of your journey from inception to birth of this touching creation?

Hoffman: Our son was 2 years old when he went to pre-school and chose a path different than the other boys in his class. We saw our pink boy being teased and struggling to find ways to be himself. It was a tough process to go through. We felt it was important to share this story about kids who are different in a way that would appeal to a mainstream audience. We especially wanted to speak to pre-school and elementary school kids so they can learn, early on, that it’s okay to be different. It’s important to teach that message both to the kids who are different and those who are part of the norm.

OFC: Have you received any backlash about this or other published work about your kids’ journey?

Hoffman: So far, Jacob’s New Dress is receiving a lot of very positive responses, both from the press and from parents. In past publications, we have been flooded with positive letters from parents everywhere. However, there’s always some negative feedback from folks that say “we’re making our child gay by forcing him to wear a dress” or that we’re “going to hell for not educating our child.” Most of these folks, I think, are just not open to seeing the impact of repressing our kids at home. So we tend to ignore the letters that come from a place of anger and not inquiry. We are grateful that the publisher is so supportive and thrilled about the work.

OFC: You mentioned elementary schools as a primary audience, but do you see the book finding a home in other places?

Hoffman: Yes! We would love to see the book wherever kids and parents are – libraries, doctors’ offices, you name it. We want it to be a staple, so more and more kids can see themselves and their friends represented. Kids are, in fact, totally open to this. Just think of Cat in the Hat. It’s initially an uncomfortable book when you first read it as an adult, right? It doesn’t really phases the kids, though. Kids understand the world is not orderly.

OFC: This is great! It sounds like the book is landing well with parents and caregivers across the country. Is there anything else you’d like to share with Our Family Coalition today?JacobsDress

Hoffman: We are so grateful to be receiving hundreds of emails and notes sharing the impact that Jacob’s New Dress has on their children’s lives.  Families have submitted photos of their kids reading the book, shared news of bringing the book into their children’s schools and libraries, and told stories of tears and recognition and comfort. Receiving this feedback is utterly gratifying, as these families are the reason we wrote this book. We feel honored to be on the same shelf as author Leslea Newman (The Boy Who Cried Fabulous, Heather Has Two Mommies), and so many other fantastic kids books that are challenging archaic notions of what it means to be different than the norm.  For more on Sarah & Ian Hoffman, visit their website.

Wedding in a Week

Post by Maria Iorillo of San Francisco Midwife

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Dina and I have been together for 19 years. She is amazing, wonderful, marriage-material-from-day-one! A few years back, I really can’t remember, I asked her to marry me. She knew that marriage was actually a difficult topic for me, so she had said, “I won’t pressure you, I won’t even ask. But someday, you are going to ask me. Even if I have to wait until I am 65, I know someday you will ask.” So, a few years back, after working through my own self doubts and hesitations, I asked.

Of course, she said yes.

But what did it really mean? It was a sentiment from my heart. I want to marry you. But, there really was nothing else to do at that point. I didn’t want to get married in a different state and then come back to California. So, we waited. Between then and now, I probably asked her to marry me again a couple dozen times.

On June 26th, 2013, Prop 8 and DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) went down in flames. I watched, riveted, to my television at 7am (which I usually never do). I texted my son that love conquers hate. He asked me if we were gonna go for it. I said, “I think so. Wanna be there?” He said, “Don’t you dare do it without me!”

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I imagined Dina and me waiting on line with hundreds of other couples and us tweeting as we were getting closer to our turn. “Marriage in 2 hours.” “Meet us in 15.” Truth be told, we didn’t even know HOW to get married. It was Gay Pride weekend, so that Saturday, we asked another couple who had recently partaken in this ancient ritual, how it was done.

Go online.

On the City and County of San Francisco website, they announced that they would be marrying couples all weekend. City Hall is usually closed to the public on Saturday and Sunday but they knew the time was now.

LineOn Sunday, we got on line with hundreds of other giddy, in love couples. There were families with children, two men, two women, some in tuxes, some in sneakers and jeans. As each couple passed with their marriage certificate, the crowd cheered. Dina and I filled out our application for a marriage certificate and after 2 and a half hours, we were done with part A of getting married. We needed to wait for Tyler for part B, the ceremony.

Fortunately, Tyler, who is 21, came home from college the next day. We went online. We made an appointment. July 9th, 1:30pm, County Clerk’s office.

By Tuesday, July 2nd, we were starting to plan, but I was dreaming of a bigger venue in City Hall. I skimmed over a wedding package on the San Francisco county website where more people could come. Then, I found it. Weekday Balcony rentals. Click. I called to the City’s Events Planning Office and asked what they had available, as soon as possible. Tuesday, July 9th would work on the 4th-floor balcony. You can have 120 people. I’ll take it!

Dina and I went down that afternoon to look at the balcony. It is on the fourth floor with beautiful natural light and white marble everywhere — certainly a gorgeous place to have a wedding.

July 4th. Potluck at Stephanie Forster’s. Which shirt do you like the best? What shoes should we wear? Stephanie, Sam and Liz took us under their wings and coached us for 3 hours about what we needed, from girlie undergarments to make-up and hair. Dina and I came home overwhelmed, excited, and maybe a little nauseous. This was really happening.

The 8th. The Day Before Our Wedding. We still didn’t have rings. Down at City Hall, checking out the venue. Here’s the plan: 93 in the Bridal party! 15 midwife bridesmaids with 17 babes-in-arms will follow, announcing the baby’s name and age. Dina and I proceed in. 53 flower girls and boys follow, each announcing their name and age and giving Dina and I one flower each. Obviously, these are all “my babies”, from 9-day-old Micah to 22-year-old Natasha.

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Rings. Yeah, those. Okay, we make one last ditch effort to find rings in our sizes before we will have to order them and just use stand-ins for the wedding. We go to the back of REI to the Diamond Center on a tip from Kevin Ehrenrich, Oliver’s Dad (Baby 1001). There we find a man who says he can make our rings, to size, with engraving, by 11am tomorrow. Really? It’s GO time!

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July 9th. Wedding Day. Excitement, beauty, joyful ruckus, happy chaos. Kate Holcombe (mother of Calder, Hayes and Sam) came up to us at the last moment and gave us both something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. We loved it! All went perfectly and beyond our wildest dreams. We felt so much love and support from this amazing community. We feel blessed, grateful, giddy, overjoyed, lucky.

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Read the full article on Wisewoman Childbirth Traditions Newsletter: Wedding in a Week!