How Emily Got Her Groove Back

How Emily Got Her Groove Back

Click here and turn to page 90!  The May Issue of the Reno Tahoe Tonight magazine just came out online and our monthly article “SameSides” was included.  Learn how I got my groove back after life as a married woman and mother of three children ended in the amicable divorce that Devon and I make work so beautifully.


Pick up your hard copy in the next few days.

Peace and Grooving,


*image taken from


Way Cool

Hot off the presses!

It’s here! The November Issue of Reno Tahoe Tonight, including the new column that Devon and I are writing. Click below, turn to page 79, enjoy, and share with your friends! Check out the great pics of Devon and me as Ward and June Cleaver. Thanks, Oliver Ex. Woo-hoo!

Same Sides Column Reno Tahoe Tonight


Devon and Emily

The Eldest

Our kids have been very much involved with our blog.  There is little that we keep from them.  They handle things well and the communication we all work so hard at has really paid off.  I’m going to be submitting something from each of the kids over the next week or so, and today, I’ll start with our eldest, Maddie.  I can’t wait for you to read what she has to say, in interview form.

1.  Why do you like books and reading so much?  Like, what does it do for your emotions, how does reading enhance your life and what kinds of books do you like to read the most and why?  You can list up to two favorites, otherwise, you’d never get to the other questions.

I love reading books because it’s like seeing a movie over and over in your head with every delicious word and scrumptious detail. When I read, my imagination takes over after a couple of sentences, allowing me to predict the next word, like “the”, “and”, and “this” for example. That’s why I read so fast, contrary to everyone’s belief that I skip pages. My imagination, (possibly my greatest quality) also allows me to go into the book and live whatever is happening, which is mostly good when I’m stressed out over some assignment that is being graded under a strict set of rules. It helps me get out of my own life, if even for a half hour. These are my two favorite readings.

Harry Potter- As the first real young adult book I ever read, it obviously holds a dear place in my book brain. It is what got me interested in all things fantastical, from wizards to vampires to the Fae (real faeries, not like the prissy Tinkerbell types). I like Hermione, because she’s literally the smartest in all of the books I’ve read and I want to be like her. At one point I even wanted to be named Hermione (my mom immediately quashed that dream by calling me Hermie).

Tithe- Holly Black is an amazing writer and her characters are so real. I mean if I was a pixie, I wouldn’t be trying to hide it. I would go somewhere I could flaunt it. It takes me to a place where no matter how hideous you are to other people, you can dance and play and rip people apart for fun (not that I want to do the last one, but technically in the land of the Fae it might be interesting). There also aren’t really any rules, which might be fun for a while.

Maddie is a candy-aholic. She wanted to make sure this picture made it into the post. They are her favorite. She eats them like chips if I let her.

2.  You’re a really good writer and you know I’m not joking.  You have written large, complicated stories before and they are better than what most college students these days could write.  How come you wouldn’t create something for this blog and requested that I do an interview format instead?

It’s harder for me to write non-fiction books because they aren’t as interesting to me, and therefore I get distracted much easier. It also takes a lot longer for me to write non-fiction unless I have prompts, like the fifth grade Writing Test. For example, you were giving me free reign over my prompts that I could have used for this blog, Mom, and it’s hard for me to make decisions without over-thinking it; I also had no specific length that I could make the blog post. It would have hurt my brain to think so hard 😛

Everyone has their fetishes in our family, and Maddie is no exception. Maddie’s is creepy though: Old Dolls. Here’s a picture she took on our latest antique store outing. Seriously disturbing.

3.  What do you remember thinking about why your dad and I were separated, since neither of us told you why for at least a couple of years?  I’m talking about before your dad came out of the closet to you.  Do you ever remember thinking it was your fault?

I just remember one positive thing: “Two Christmases!” That part was a kid’s dream-come-true, but I think I was more intelligent than that for the most part. I had already met Felipe, so I was a little worried that I wouldn’t get to see him anymore, but dad said that he would still be living with us. You and Dad had been living apart for a while already, so I suppose the crying was my little kid side, when really I was thinking, “Ok, as long as parents are in the same city then I’ll be fine.” You guys told us that it would be the same situation as it had been for about a year and a half, except there might be some moving around until we settled into a good house. I NEVER thought it was my fault, for two reasons: 1) I am the best daughter you could have asked for; and 2) You told us the second the announcement came that it wasn’t our fault. If everyone does that, kids won’t think it’s their fault at all. They might doubt it, but as long as it’s the truth, they’ll believe it at some point.

Devon, have your shotgun at the ready. It’s a good thing Felipe is a hand-to-hand combat trained Marine, ‘cuz seriously, this chick is beautiful.

4.  What is the hardest part about being one of the only of the three of you kids who remembers the most about the way we lived pre-divorce and the way we now think and live post-divorce?

I don’t know. There was a lot more fighting and yelling when you and Dad were married and going through your stuff, and even though you didn’t want us to hear it, whenever you were yelling at each-other I would hide next to the staircase wall and listen, hoping to understand why you guys fought so much. I also snuck into your room one time, like I always used to, and saw your wedding ring just lying on the bathroom counter. You never used to take that thing off, but I didn’t care so much, because you were in the shower. Now, you don’t really fight unless Dad gets annoyed at the cleanliness of something or you being “late” to various events (underwater basket-weaving competitions, for example), which isn’t so often anymore. But it’s one of those things that’s solved in a minute, an hour, or over-night; it depends on what happened.

5.  What kinds of things do you always wish you could say to your dad and I about our divorce that you’ve never said before?  We won’t get mad.  We’ll just get even.  Don’t worry.

Honestly? I wish you had told us Dad was gay instead of letting us believe what we wanted to. After about two years I sort of figured it out, but I didn’t think the other kids would understand and I didn’t understand as much as I do now, so I didn’t want to look stupid, even as a second grader. ‘Cause that never really happened (looking stupid) and I hated looking like I had done something wrong by saying something wrong. I just waited it out, and voila! I was right. Oh well, at least I learned that I have patience.

6.  Is there anything you would tell children whose parents are currently separated and going through a divorce that you wish someone would have told you during the time you experienced it?

If the divorce is amicable, then I think you’ve said everything, but even amicable separated couples should tell their kids the real reason why they’re getting divorced. If the kids won’t understand it, then put it in terms that they might. For non-amicable divorces, at least don’t fight in front of your kids; feelings towards the other person in the divorce can rub off on your kids. It’s not pretty, I’ve seen it, especially in teenagers; they become spiteful towards their other parent, especially if from an early age they’ve been told that their mom or dad is a bad person (who doesn’t really love them, who loves another family more, etc., etc.). It’s a different story if they really are a bad person, but love is something that can be accompanied by anger, spite, and even hate. That’s pretty much it.

*I can post an excerpt from one of my stories at some point if anyone wants me to (post in comments, all caps STORY)

Well, there you have it.  Do you see why I love my kids so much?  I know that it would actually mean a lot to her if you wrote a brief comment below this blog.  Every kid loves feedback.

Stay tuned for the next blog over the next couple of days, to hear from my unique and well-spoken middle daughter.  It should be a hoot.

Blessings and Perfect Children,

Emily and Devon

Maddie has a fetish with Nutcrackers as well. The collection has grown out of control and it’s starting to get super creepy. It’s awesome that she likes Nutcrackers because ironically, she has a severe peanut/tree nut allergy.

Musings on our Rainbow Family and Other Observations About Life

I’ll admit that I have been avoiding writing this past month.  At work I have resorted to short and direct emails rather than longwinded missives the likes of which Gore Vidal never knew.

And, truth be told, I have been mourning the passing of a great friend four weeks ago – Brett Michael Jaffe, who left us too young.  Brett’s death has caused some significant introspection about life, love, and death.  The grieving process I have experienced with Brett’s passing reminds me a lot of going through my divorce.  Divorce after all is the “death” of a relationship.  Some days I have lingered over memories too long and other days seem more like a dream.  Some moments are re-played on the DVR in my mind on loop and others have been forgotten.  Mostly I have taken refuge in our three amazing children and in the arms of my best friend.  Today is a good day and in spite of some painful moments, LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL!

Brett Jaffe will be forever remembered. He served the USMC and his country faithfully.

Emily has been patiently cajoling me to write and has put up with my writing avoidance defense mechanism; as patient as a rabid zombie seeking a slow victim.  So I write…. with some helpful interview questions cooked up by Emily “Bacon Slayer” Strabala-Reese / Reese-Strabala / Reese / Strabala (which is it? – a topic for another time).

Here are the questions she presented to me.

1.  What is a “Fred-ism”?  Give some examples of what this means.  I think it would be good to clarify this topic so that you can begin using them when you write on our blog.

Funny!  My Dad’s name is Thomas Frederick Reese.  Born a really long time ago, he is the Aged P.  He’s always gone by “Fred” to his friends (a.k.a. The Silver Fox).  It stands to reason that a “Fred-ism” is something that Fred does, says, or is.  I love my Dad!  He’s been a huge influence on my life.  He, like us all, has his faults and has made his share of mistakes.  He will be 78 this year and he has put a bunch of miles on his body so we are trying to be honest about his health – some days are better than others.

I also think Fredisms are a secret code for those who know him to reflect on his craziness.  My brothers and sisters can laugh and tell Fredisms to each other for hours.  It’s like a secret club where you can only be admitted if you know all the quirks of our Father.

Fredisms include:

  • a particular brand of OCD tendencies – like having to make certain that your house is perfectly clean before leaving for vacation (“Who wants to return from a trip to a dirty house?”)
  • instead of having something defensible to say about someone’s worldview, just barking, “She’s not all there!” is his fall-back phrase.  (Yes Dad, Shelly Berkley looks like “the Joker on speed.”)
  • being on a first name basis with every employee of every Dollar Store or consignment shop in Sparks, Nevada.  You should see the garbage he sends home with us.  I shit-you-not this stuff is hysterical.  I have personally received plaster hands in prayer; tin boxes, piggy banks of every shape and size (when one of my children mistakenly remarked that he liked them), “discreet” condom storage boxes (with pictures of sunsets and sandy beaches), dream catchers (Emily’s favorite), and all measure of Chinese manufactured bullshit to fill a dumpster the size of a small village.  This is his latest gift.  What in the hell is this?  Best response might receive it in the mail next week so tread lightly.

What the hell is this, anyway? And a better question is, why did Fred think it was a must-have?

When I was a kid I used to find his Fredisms annoying.  Now I am just thankful that he is still around and my kids get to know what an amazing, if somewhat crazy, man this is.

2.  Please give your rendition of the day you proposed to me.  Wait.  Also please tell me exactly when you decided you loved me so much that you wanted to ask me to marry you.  I’ve never asked that question.

It was December; we were spending Christmas Break in Reno.  It was cold!  My parents had recently sold the home I grew up in and moved into a Condo that my Mother could not stand (Fred in his infinite wisdom sold the house “out from under me” as my Mother frequently recalls).  I had purchased the ring a few months earlier but wanted everyone to meet you first.  I had some ideas about how to propose that I’d read about or seen on television.  One was to make my own light-up sign using a cardboard box and Christmas light – who do I look like Martha Stewart?  I’d have cut myself and bled to death or been electrocuted.  That was not going to work.  It also snowed the first four or five days we were in town which significantly impaired my ability to plan anything outside.  I was getting desperate!  So I settled on getting to the top of the highest point I could safely get us to in a blizzard and simply getting down on one knee.  So I proposed on the hill at McQueen High School.  I remember you were wearing ugly black shoes that were not the best thing for a hike through 2 feet of snow.  You said yes!  The rest is history.

I decided to ask you to marry me after I drove a couple hundred miles in a snowstorm to see you play in the National Catholic Basketball Tournament in some far wintery region of Iowa.  Quad-Cities I think.  I had just returned to Kansas City from being in Reno for Christmas break when I received a “Dear John” letter from you.  I was having none of that so Shane and I drove through the night to win you back.

Note from Emily:  Devon, I remember having the best game of my college career that morning, not knowing you were sitting in the bleachers with Shane.  When I came out of the game for a much needed break (and probably to change my uniform because the one I was wearing was too slimy from sweat), imagine my surprise when I saw you sitting there smiling at me.  Well played, Devon.  That sealed the deal for me, too.

3.  Please tell the general populace why you think you know everything about everything.  In particular, I am referring to the jobs you had which led you to the path of Nirvana and Total Enlightenment.

This is a “Fredism”.  I use this line on the kids mostly but occasionally it is a pithy retort to any argument with anyone.  I have worked in retail (youngest manager in Gantos story history), ice cream, and inventory control – I am therefore qualified to opine on any subject including fashion (although this is disputed by my two girls), Olympic diving (“He is gay, you can tell by the way he wears his Speedo to the left”), and the politics of Djibouti.

4.  What, in your opinion, were the three toughest things about hashing out the particulars of our divorce?

  • Child custody – I wanted the kids to immediately spend 50% of their time with me; this was not always practical but eventually worked out.
  • Finances – at the time, the economy was shot (still is?) and I was not working.  But again, this got worked out.
  • Stuff – I did not want much but I had to say goodbye to things we collected along the way – can I have the little wood boxes back?

From Emily:  No, you can’t have those boxes.  I use them to store the various voodoo dolls I have created of you over the last 6 years.  They hold sentimental bitter feelings for me.

5.  What in particular would you want to see improvement on between the two of us and our current relationship?  Please be brutally honest.  Don’t give me that “I wouldn’t change anything, you’re perfect the way you are, I’m perfect and don’t need to change a thing” crap.  I’m totally serious, here.  Our dirty laundry can’t get any dirtier than it already is on this blog.

  • You need to clean your house more.
  • The kids need to take more showers at your house.
  • You need to clean your car.
  • You could make me White Chicken Chile once and a while.
  • You need to clean your house more.
  • Can you get a job soon?
  • Don’t ask me if I think your current boyfriend is cute.  He is ugly when compared to me.

Emily:  I would love to get all sorts of defensive on your ass for these comments, but unfortunately, they are true to a degree.  I did clean out the car the other day.  I found some petrified chicken McNuggets under the back seat that I thought about saving for your viewing pleasure.  Instead, I put them in the wooden boxes for safe keeping.

6.  When you are dealing with clients who are going through a divorce, what kinds of things do you think about when counseling them through the process?  Do you ever use us as an example?  Does it ever cause you to be self-reflective?  What is the toughest thing about dealing with Family Law and having been through a divorce yourself?

This is a great question.  I think I am very good at this type of practice because I have gone through a divorce.  I do try to encourage cooperation and use our own divorce as a model.  Unfortunately, it is not always realistic – some people need to have their dumbass opinions corrected.  I “know everything about everything” so it is “my way” or you can hire someone else.  I do turn down clients – mostly they are people who want to “slash and burn” their ex-spouses.  I will not do that – life is too short.

Blessings and Rainbows, Devon and Emily

Another example of a gift from Fred to his son and his son’s male partner. ‘Cuz, you know, they’re like daughters to him?

The Bald and the Beautiful

Annie used to look like this:





And now “Annie” is no longer Annie.  The new name for the androgynous CPR simulator is Pat, or Mr. Clean, whichever you prefer.

I prefer Mr. Clean.


This new CPR doll can appear a little disturbing to most people.  However, I was entirely too turned on by it.



Intentional shaving of the noggin can make the ugliest of men completely and utterly foxy to me.  I’m good with a hairy back and untrimmed manly area, but if a guy’s head is smooth and unadulterated, I get that 50 Shades of Grey feeling.

You full-head-of-hair single guys out there who are thinking:  “Dammit.  I don’t stand a chance now with this Hot Aryan MILF,” you’re wrong.  Please find me on, if you dare.  That is, if I ever renew my membership.  If you can keep yourself from typing “your” instead of “you’re” or “they’re” instead of “their”, then I may reconsider.

But seriously, there’s just something about a guy who embraces his non hair-plugged self.  It says:  “I am confident with who I am.  So much so, that when I first noticed that thinning spot near my temples and soft-spot, I wouldn’t ever think a 7 inch combover piece could hide it.  I shaved that shit off, pronto.”

Side note:  For those bald guy friends of mine who are in a happy relationship, I wouldn’t dare go past the thought that you are handsome.  I draw the line at my friends.  You are taken.  Girlfriends or wives of baldies, you are safe from my prowling.  Don’t fret.

Everyone has their fettishes.  Mine is a shiny and shaved skull.  I would go so far as to say that when I see a guy (even if he has a full head of hair), I don’t look at the size of his feet or hands and make anatomical assumptions.  I picture him bald and think that possibly I could change him.

And so when I walked into my required CPR Certification class for my future Masters degree, I was not mentally or sexually prepared to see 10 hot bald guys lying there on the floor in a pile, waiting for me to accost them.  I had only prepared myself to get comfortable with the fact that I would be making out for four hours with a lesbian torso named Annie.

Shocking.  Truly.

Life can take a turn drastically and cause you to do a double-take at the most unexpected times.

Kind of like the time when I jokingly said six years ago to my then husband, after he proclaimed he wouldn’t dare cheat on me with another woman:  “What are you, then?  Gay or something?”

He shockingly said:  “So, you knew this whole time?”

Uh, excuse me?   Wait.  I was only kidding, yo.

Now, six years later, I get to explore my preferrences.  I embrace my circumstance instead of getting bitter about it.  It took awhile to get there.  I tried manipulating Devon for a year and a half into making our marriage work despite his preference for guys.  I used religious jargon against him and tried guilt trips using our three beautiful children to get him to change his “choice” of his now-husband over me.

It didn’t work, obviously.  Finally, six years later, I am at peace with my situation and I love both Devon and his husband.  Our amicable divorce was a big starting point for getting me to a place of love and acceptance of Devon and my single status.

So watch out, Mr. Clean.  I have had a crush on you since before Devon’s Big Reveal, and this isn’t a choice.  It’s a part of who I am at my core.  While I haven’t found the live version of you yet, I will continue to take CPR classes so I can make out with you under the guise of saving your life.  A girl’s got needs, and I’ll get it where I can, even if you don’t have legs that wrap around me, eyelashes, eyebrows or an intellect that can challenge my thinking.

You are out there, Bald Soul Mate.  I just know it.  I won’t give up.  I have so much to give, including my razor for your receding hairline.

Blessings and Baldness,


Pat, was it good for you, too? Until the next class…


One of my favorite Office scenes of all times featuring Dwight cutting off Annie’s face and reenacting a scene from Silence of the Lambs.

Feeling Bubbly?

Hold on, Loyal Subjects.  The Royal We is about to ramble.

If this kind of thing bothers you, then I will give you a moment to politely X out and move onto another one of your favorite blog sites.  Or Facebook.  That’s always a safe choice.

Cricket, cricket.  Pause, pause.


So as I was saying, I’m about to puke all over you with a bunch of sentimentality.  I hope you’re ready.

I’ve had the most wonderful day.  I woke up at 10 a.m., which is an extreme rarity for me.  I’m usually up at 5 a.m. drinking coffee on the porch and listening to the cute little birds sing.  (These same birds eventually come and deposit their bowels on my freshly done hair weave.  No kidding.  Really happened.  I’ll tell you about that another time.)   I hung out on the porch, stalked my Facebook and blog stats, drank a Bloody Mary, did some homework, went to a dynamite barbeque, and then walked home.  All in all, today was fabulous.

Then I talked with my kids on the phone, like I do every evening when they’re not with me.  They’re with Devon and their step-dad, Felipe, in Santa Cruz, California, for the next eight days for the Fourth of July holiday.  Today, they went walking on the beach, picked up some seashells for my collection and were getting to stay up super late (this is a novelty for them as Devon and I are sticklers about them going to bed early, even in the summer).   They sounded happy, just like children should be.

And then Kate said:  “Mommy, I really wish you were here.  Are you feeling bubbly or sad?”

I think sometimes that Kate is connected on a first-name basis with the boss of the Universe.  She is seriously one of the most intuitive kids I’ve ever met.

I nearly cried on the spot.

You see, Devon and the kids and I used to go to the Monterey Bay area at least twice a year.  I even have an entire scrapbook dedicated to those vacations.  Those were some of the happiest memories of my life.  And now he’s there with them, without me.

Huh.  Just when I think I’m totally at peace with my life and content to be alone, my daughter has to go and say something like that.

I can’t even believe that things have changed so drastically sometimes.  This is not how I ever pictured that my life would turn out.  Here I am, happy, healthy (F U cancer.  I kicked your ass), and content with the way things are… and I’m not with my kids making memories with Devon and the bambinos in one of my favorite spots on this earth.  So depressing.

Do you know how I feel?  Please tell me I’m not alone in this.

If you’ve been through a divorce, amicable or not, this shit can creep up on you at the most unexpected times, whether it’s been 6 years or 20.

I guess that’s what dealing with the death of a loved one feels like.  You can feel fine for a long time, and then that feeling of loss can just hit you like a freak car accident.

No, Devon isn’t dead.  Thank God.  My alimony and child support would suffer too much.  I’d be living out of a raunchy motel room faster than you can say, “evicted”.  Seriously, I don’t want him dead.  He’s too important to the kids, and even myself, I dare say.

But our marriage is dead.  That seriously sucks, even six years later.

So what do I do with these super sad feelings?  In the past I would just shove them down and not deal with them.

But now?  I write.  In fact, I write about them and share them with you.  Then I go pull out that Santa Cruz scrapbook and waste an entire box of Kleenex.  I might even take a Xanex and fall asleep.

Tomorrow I will wake up at 5 a.m., drink my coffee on the porch, listen to those diabolical shit-dropping birds and reflect on how wonderful my life and memories truly have been.  I will think of things to be thankful for, like my health, my kids’ happiness, my positive future, amazing barbecues and bacon.

I’ll probably blog about all of that, too.  Having the purpose of helping others face their divorce with transparency and strength is a pretty good reason to exist.

Blessings, Emily

A rainbow seashell? How appropriate. Devon, don’t feel guilty. Just make sure to get some pretty seashells for my collection and send lots of pictures of the kids. Oh, and write something for the blog. Anything. Peace to you and Felipe.

Check It Out! Exciting Stuff!

Hey, hey, hey Loyal Subjects!  An article just came out through Reuters (an international news organization) where Devon and The Royal We were interviewed regarding amicable divorces and mistakes to avoid.  It’s a super helpful article and very practical.  Check it out and give us your comments!  Thanks, Geoff Williams, for including us in your research. 

Blessings, Emily and Devon