Things, July

This month is kicking my butt. I have no extra time and no extra money. I am late on getting Fae’s birthday video (coming soon) and showing you some photos from her baptism (coming soon). I had to skip a podcast week because we just couldn’t find the time to record and I have no more banked episodes (fail). I am drowning. Again. Even more. Next week is worse. Doctor appointments and dentist appointments and more more more.

There are some good things though. I have seen my best friends almost every weekend, and during the week for nearly a month now, and it will be this way well into September. Wedding events for Claire, Fae’s birthday, brunches, babysitting, drinks on rooftops, shopping excursions, and on and on. This is a big reason why I moved home. I am so happy to be living in the same place as my people.

I’m annoyed at my body. Not to the point where I can’t get dressed, I just don’t have time for that bullshit to be honest. But, I’m mad that I workout regularly, indulge rarely, and yet still… the postpartum stomach pooch, the thickness in the middle that is making clothes shopping so hard, the stubborn lbs that won’t come off. I’m just so frustrated. And I know that yes, I could restrict my diet further, I could be hungrier, I could. But fuuuuck, I just don’t want to more than I am. I really don’t. And part of me is totally ok with that. And the other part of me like… it’s been a year. Why can’t I shake these last 5 lbs? And even if I did, I’m sure I would still have this skin bulk right in my middle that makes dress shopping so frustrating, that makes muffin top pants so so so annoyingly real, that makes my workouts seem pointless. ERGH.

I have next week’s podcast all planned out, but I would very much like some topic suggestions. If you have a question, that is awesome! Email me at birlpodcast@gmail.com or betterinrealife@gmail.com, but even if you don’t have a question and just want to hear Kamel and I debate/discuss something, let me know in comments. My inspiration well is running a tad bit dry with all of the life stuff swirling around us.

Fae is transitioning out of the baby room and is headed into the “waddler” room. Like she’s no longer a real baby anymore or something. Not a fan of this thought process. Will she always seems so so little to me? Is that how youngest children work? Because the oldest is also little, but the littler one is SUPER little. Is that what they mean when they say, “You’ll always be my baby”? I wonder what her first word will be. It might be “ow” to be honest…

I want THINX underpants!!! I just haven’t gotten my shit together enough to spend $30 a pair on them!! This is me yelling at myself about it!! After having Gabriel nothing really changed with my period, even though I had heard that having babies can make your period heavier. But after having Fae – I leak through super tampons like they aren’t even there. (TMI, sorry, I warned you too late.) I end up wearing an annoying horrible pad for at least 3-4 days because at any given moment I can just spring a damn leak. So instead I want period underpants! But $30! A pair! My underpant plight is constant and ongoing. There is no justice.

Everyone is going on vacations. I see it all over the internet. I am not. I desperately wish I was. That is all.

I have been at home and not in an office since May of 2015. Isn’t that weird? I have always worked. And I mean, I am working, full time, but I’m just here, on my coach. Maybe it would feel less like I’m just sitting around in my underwear if I was sitting around in my underwear at a desk, in an office. But for now I am on my couch, being professional as shit, without a bra on, feeling waves of impostor syndrome wash over me. And not going on any vacations.

5th Anniversary: Wood

The first day I met Kamel he took me to the woods. He had rented a hasselblad and needed a “model” (<– not the fancy kind, but the real kind) to practice on. I volunteered via twitter. He picked me up on the corner of my street and drive me to an undisclosed location. I was never nervous or afraid. I probably should have been. He took photos of me, awkwardly standing around the woods. I was wearing a long sleeved floral shirt, jeans, and flip flops. Today I look at the photos and hate how my feet look. He still thinks I looked amazing. At the time he said my shirt was clashing too much with the trees, and would it be ok if I went home and changed into something else? His driving made me carsick and I was very hungover, but I did my best to play it cool. I thought he was interesting.

1313-1

A few days before we got married we rented a Dodge Charger and took a roadtrip to the peninsula of Washington state. We walked through the woods in La Push and entered onto one of the most magical beaches ever ever in the history of shorelines. Aside from the large rock structures that poke out of the water, there are giant logs that have washed up on shore. They are perfect for climbing and they are so big they make you feel small. I first had gone to this beach with Maris, and going there as an escape from all of the wedding planning hubbub had felt like perfection. Still, even just a few days ago, we talked about what a good idea it was to get away for a day right before the wedding. Perfect timing, perfect us time, perfect adventure.

SONY DSC

On our first anniversary we lived in an apartment with a wall of windows that faced large eucalyptus trees. They all stood in a neat row and were so high it was difficult to get a photo of them even when I tried. I have never been able to replicate the sound they made when the wind blew. Like waves pounding the shore, but gentler. I miss those trees and that apartment.

By our second anniversary we had Gabriel. We ordered takeout from a fancy italian restaurant, ate a late dinner because we had to stop at Target first, and took turns soothing a fussy baby during his witching hour, while the other one got to eat semi-warm bolognese. There were no trees.

By the time we had a third anniversary we had moved back to Seattle. It took me a year to get over how green it is here. Yes, yes it is the Evergreen State, but how often are those nicknames even relevant? It is so lush and so sparkly and so alive here, it blows me away.

On our fourth anniversary I had just given birth to our little bird. We drank champagne while she slept on our chests. I was tired and sore and life was hard, but life was good. We stayed inside all day except for when we took Fae for her 2-day check-up.

On this fifth anniversary we spent most of the day apart. It was Fae’s birthday party! And so many things needed to get done! We had hot dogs to grill and decorations to hang and cake to pick up and bags of ice to buy. At the end of the day, when we finally did get a minute for ourselves, we pulled out our wedding champagne flutes from the back of the cabinet and poured ourselves a glass. Of course the pop of the cork woke up Gabriel, so I moved our tiny anniversary celebration into our bedroom while Kamel settled him back down. It took a while. By the time Kamel was shutting the nursery door behind him, it was nearly 11pm. He crawled into bed and we began a little toast about the last five years, only to have me knock a giant splash of champagne all over myself and the bed. So, press pause again while we strip the sheets and change the linens and I change my pajamas. By the time we had even had a sip the champagne was warm and we were both so, so tired. Much like I am right now as I try to finish this post.

Five years is a long time. But it feels like maybe two years ago we got married, not five. Where did these children even come from? Why is the fifth anniversary wood? Because trees start out as saplings and just keep chugging along until they are mighty redwoods? Hm, maybe. Because they are both strong, yet comforting? Solid, yet soft? Perhaps. I think five years is wood because even the most evergreen tree experiences seasons. There are periods of drought, and threatening forest fires. There is spring time with pine cones or seeds that float through the air, and fall with a splash of color or no color at all. Winter (is coming, just kidding) can be both beautiful and barren. And marriage is all of those things. Hopefully you and I haven’t seen them all in just five years. But we will. And even through the great moments and the desperate ones, the tree stands. Sometimes all anyone can ask is that you show up. Showing up to marriage is much more than 50% of the game. Sometimes all you can do is be there, standing next to each other.

To Kamel on our 5th wedding anniversary. Thank you for being my tree. I love you, you coo-coo bananas man of mine. How amazing is this family we’ve built? I would relive it all over again just to see it happen one more time.

Episode 22: Sponsored by Therapy

This week’s episode comes from a long time blog reader who is now engaged. Hooray! She wrote to me way back in April about tips and tricks on figuring out how to fight with your partner.

Learning to fight is a constant work in progress in our house and, I think, in many houses. Being compassionate and being able to listen even while pissed is a skill that takes practice and patience with yourself and others. Fighting in general is exhausting. Fighting while engaged? That’s a whole other pile of poop.

How have you learned to fight with your partner? What works for you and what doesn’t? Did you fight more than usual during engagement? We did! I only know from my experiences, so any other points of view are definitely encouraged!

(Also, this is a very well timed episode as our 5 year wedding anniversary is on Saturday! LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!)

Fae Turns One

This year has been the fastest year of my life. And I worry it only speeds up from here. A year ago Fae Lira Dupuis-Perez was born. It was an easy delivery, it was a hard recovery, it has been a scramble ever since.

IMG_5120 (1)

The very first photo of Fae, fresh out of the oven.

IMG_5119

For the first several weeks no one slept, you never do. Fae was up until 1am like it was the middle of the afternoon, and then would sleep sometimes until 9am, with a lot of restarts between. I have never felt more exhausted, sore, and over-touched than I did during the first two months.

20150813_135222736_iOS

Fae at 1 month. 

20150913_161041446_iOS

Fae at 2 months.

I have never met a more chill, happy baby than Fae. Gabriel was always a mover and a shaker. He didn’t really want to snuggle or be held in your lap. He wanted to go go go. And even though Fae walked months earlier than Gabriel, She spent the majority of her babyhood happily sitting in my lap and looking around, or chillin’ in her high chair, or playing independently with all of her brother’s choking hazard toys.

IMG_3886

Fae at 3 months.

IMG_5042

Fae at 4 months.

Fae has a signature whisper. She was slow-ish to babble, but raspberried constantly and because she lost her voice for several weeks early on, she developed a very cute whisper still used today. She often whispers to herself like she is mumbling spells under her breath.

She is sweet and snuggly, but also fearless and fiery. She has no problem pushing anyone away that she doesn’t want to be close to. She will enthusiastically shake her head NO and glue her mouth shut to any unwanted food. When she is unhappy she is immediately and immensely unhappy. There is no whimper, there is only hot rage.

IMG_6005

Fae at 5 months.

IMG_7124

Fae at 6 months. 

IMG_8426

Fae at 7 months.

She already throws tiny tantrums. And I find them hilarious. The best part about having two kids (And there are many good things and many many hard things) is that the stuff Gabe is doing is always way more stressful, way more involved, way more annoying. So baby tantrums? HAHA. I LAUGH AT YOU. I’m sure I also laughed at Gabe, but I think part of me was also like “how do we do this? What is baby tantrum protocol?” and now I feel like…. “Oh look, Fae threw herself on the ground bc we took away that plastic wrapper she was trying to eat. Ho hum.” Beautiful.

IMG_9473

Fae at 8 months.

IMG_1089

Fae at 9 months old.

Oh and the illnesses. My god, second children and being sick. But… And you can cock your eye brows at me in a few months… so far, Fae has weathered all of her many colds and rashes and two round of HFM like a CHAMP. I mean, clearly just wait for it. She is about to head into the land of toddler daycare, the germiest of all the rooms. So come January I’m sure I will be begging for mercy under a pile of empty kleenex boxes and puke buckets. So… yay the holidays.

IMG_2521

Fae at 10 months.

IMG_3803 (1)

Fae at 11 months.

The day I gave birth to Gabriel and the day I gave birth to Fae are the two most important days of my life. My love for them both grows every single day, though sometimes it does threaten to swallow me whole. Having a daughter, though she is 100% her own person and her actions and growth will one day be her very own, having her completes me as a person. Not that I’m done now, but that I’m whole now. I have waited for her for a very long time and she is infinitely more wonderful than I could have ever imagined.

IMG_5202

Fae at 12 months.

Fae Lira, you are my every day sunshine. Happy birthday my little bird. I would do it all again for eternity if I could.

We Are Wrong

Yesterday I hit my breaking point. And the fact that I am 31 and I have just now had a breaking point is my privilege speaking. Because social strife is exhausting and I am already so exhausted, but that is nothing. That is nothing at all.

I closed my social media yesterday for a heart beat. I wasn’t going back into the fray. I was tired. I was tired of being challenged, and saddened, and educated. I was tired of seeing awfulness and reading ignorance and feeling obligated to be witness. And what a gift that is for me to be able to just walk away from that, when others cannot walk away. What an ivory tower gift that is. I could no longer face myself if I acted on that privilege.

I am done being concerned with politeness or other people’s comfort or my own comfort. I have gritted my teeth through conversations, I have blank-faced and walked away or made nice or made good – or whatever – for the sake of not being that person. But I am that person. I have always been that person and I am burning up inside trying to push that person away.

Social justice should be in every single one of our bones. It should leak out of our pores, we should all be willing to stand in front of victims to protect them from oppressors. But we don’t. We go to work and we pay our bills and we feed our kids and we go about our days, because realistically that is life.

But I will no longer allow ignorance and the fear of losing the white superior status to wash over me without comment. I am not perfect and I am not always right and I don’t always say it the way it needs to be said. But around me, in my newsfeed, at my table, around my kids, anywhere within my ear shot, I am done being polite about it. Because the root of racism and devaluing the lives of people of color while cherishing the lives of white people comes from our words and our thoughts and our beliefs and our ability to be polite instead of say, “Actually, no. You are wrong.”

Episode 21: Property Spouses, Part 2

On this week’s episode we share an update on house buying, share a few room mate horror stories, and hear from YOU! It is, honestly, so nice to hear that sometimes home buying actually works. It is also nice to hear about wacky homes up for sale that are secret prepper communes.

Home ownership remains intimidating to us. I know that once we start tackling projects, living and working within our very own space, and realizing we could/would/will be capable of managing such a large responsibility on our own, it will all feel like a big relief. But in the mean time we hold our breaths and hold each other’s hands more than push each other away through this crazy, sad, frustrating, exciting, adventurous journey. Thank you for riding along with us!

What is the Opposite of Feeling Generous?

I haven’t posted like I should be because I have been dog paddling my way to a distant shore. I am actually exhausted by the constant discussion of my busy schedule. God, it’s so boring to constantly talk about the disheveled nature of my physical space, my mental space, and my calendar.

On Saturday night I had this moment of: I don’t like this life. My entire day is about the kids! About their schedules and about their meals and about the things we have to do. I don’t want to, but we have to. Because the ramifications of doing it later are even worse than the inconvenience of dragging my sorry butt in the direction of have to right this second.

I do not always feel this way, but lately I have been feeling remarkably ungenerous. That feels like not a word. Maybe because we don’t use it often. I have not felt selfish. That is not the feeling. I have felt as though I have nothing left to give. Or maybe I do, but I just don’t want to. I need to squirrel it away just for me. I’m talking like a thimble full of energy and patience that I am saving for myself. It’s stupid. I have no more understanding, I have no more gritting my teeth and smiling. I’ve run out. I don’t have any more extra time. I don’t have anymore mental space for managing any other person aside from those I made with my own body. I’ll at least take responsibility for that.

It’s not always this way. But right now I just can’t get ahead of it. And my body ACHES for a fucking vacation. A real one. Even with the kids. It’s been two years since Kamel and I went on a vacation where the only schedule we were on was our own. Where I saw new things and felt filled up by new experiences and foods and active leisure. Two years. And I’m drowning in the every day. My inspiration well is empty. I am slogging through the have-tos and swallowing the bits of myself that want to say fuuuuuuck this, this SUCKS. Because this is responsibility. This is grown up life. This is the business of all of that.

Plus I had an ear infection all last week.

Here is what I want for this week: I want to work out every day. I want to walk to Walgreens and get my passport photo taken so I can update it like I should have done 6 months ago, I want to wax my lip (nothing fancy, just in my bathroom, but finding the time for even that seems to have ESCAPED ME), I want to not fight with Gabriel about bedtime every single day, I want to find a house we like and can afford, I want to feel centered and calm about work projects and deadlines, I want to get a jump on the major events of this month so that I am not scrambling last minute. Some of these things will not be accomplished, but a lot of them will. I hope.

Episode 20: Property Spouses

The photo above is me, with one of our agents, at the first house we put an offer on. Now it is somebody else’s house.

After we recorded this episode, we found a house we thought would work and then promptly lost it. Even though we were the highest bidder, someone else waived more contingencies and they gave the house to them. Seattle is a similar market to San Francisco, only about 400k less. But just as wackadoo with low inventory.

House hunting has been rough on our marriage. Not in the “we should get divorced” way, but in the “I don’t even LIKE YOU RIGHT NOW” way. And feeling that a lot of the time is exhausting and draining. Maybe it won’t be like that for you, maybe you had a marvelous time shopping for homes. But for me, it has been one of the biggest challenges in our nearly 5 years together.

But enough about me. We want to hear from YOU. Join in on our sad sack gravy train. What are your moving stories? What are your room mate stories? What are your house buying stories? Tell me how you found your dream house, tell me about the bullets you’ve dodged, tell me about what a massive pain in the ass house hunting, apartment hunting, MOVING is. Do you have a story? I want to hear it. 

All stories are due by Monday, July 4th! 

Please call 415-275-0551. Message space is about 3 minutes. Call back as many times as you need! We will edit things together. 🙂

Without you, there is no episode. <3

Episode 19: For Fun or For Glory

Today’s episode was inspired by an old-ish article I read in NY Times titled “Why You Will Marry The Wrong Person.” Which is borderline click-bait, but ended up also being kind of amazing.

Turns out, putting up with someone’s annoying crap doesn’t = settling. It might just = marriage? But don’t worry! It also means someone is putting up with your annoying crap! It’s all a big circle.

We talk about this image in the podcast, so for your viewing pleasure here it is:

29botton-master768

Source.

And, the excerpt that I read from the article is also here:

NY Times article excerpt

But, please, go read the article. It is so good. So much to think about! And then listen to the podcast (or listen and then go read it, either way really). Today is all about the reality of what being married means and then we do a little meta discussion on what it’s like to work creatively with each other. How do you share space on a project where there is unequal footing, yet you aim for total equality in life? Sometimes it gets tricky.

Things, June

The biggest update of the month is that Kamel starts his new job on Wednesday! Hooray! We have started back up house hunting (though that is a mixed bag of feelings) and our new routine is just around the corner. In the mean time Kamel is soaking up his last hours of video-game playing, house-putzing, afternoon-napping. Big deep breath. It has been a journey and now I am looking forward to some prolonged stability for a little while. Right? Right.

I am so tired of doing for others. Which sounds like such a shitty thing to say. But here we are. When my day is surrounded by caring for others, being exceptionally patient with my children, working with their schedules, being kind to my husband, planning and being flexible for others, hosting events, honoring loved ones, spending much of my daily energy and a lot of money on people who are not me, it starts to wear on me. And this is not to play the martyr card. Maybe it is a flaw of mine. It has to do with balance, but is sounds so toddler to say so. When I’m not feeling thought of, but I’m spending a lot of time thinking of others it really does feel like something is pushing on a bruise. Lately I have had way too much output and not enough input. I am not eternally giving, what can I say?

I have been feeling the pull to Maine stronger and stronger and stronger. A vacation home? (Ridiculous in the face of our inability to even get a home-home.) Or maybe it is the pull to escape to a place where no one can find me. A little world all my own sectioned off from the masses. With bad cell reception and crap data plans. Is this why people go camping?

I want into a book store this weekend. It was kind of cheating because it was an Amazon book store. In real life. But it was SO COOL. Even though, ugh! Amazon! Independent book stores are where it is AT. But… they had a section of most popular books purchased in the PNW. And they had little side sections where the top rated books of certain genres were listed. And other little side sections where they had “If you like this, you will like these” books set up. Which were just FASCINATING. Algorithms in real life! I’m such a nerd for information like that. It felt like I was walking through a tangible internet. It was intoxicating. Kamel and I started off in there together and then silently moved apart until I was suddenly aware that I was browsing alone. Then when I was filled up with words and thinking and quiet time I had to go search for him. It was delicious.

I bought one book. It was in the “most purchased in the PNW section” or whatever. I’m certain I am phrasing that incorrectly. It’s “Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur. It’s a book of narrative poetry and I read it all in one sitting. I have to share a piece or two from it because I dog-eared a lot of pages for this one purpose.

In a section called “The Hurting”

you pinned
my legs to
the ground
with your feet
and demanded
i stand up

In a section called “The Breaking”

the woman who comes after me will be a bootleg
version of who I am. she will try and write poems
for you to erase the ones i’ve left memorized on
your lips but her lines could never punch you in
the stomach the way mine did. she will then try to 
make love to you body. but she will never
lick, caress, or suck like me. she will be a sad
replacement of the woman you let slip. nothing she 
does will excite you and this will break her. when
she is tired of falling apart for a man that doesn’t
give back what he takes she will recognize me in 
your eyelids staring at her with pity and it’ll hit her.
how can she love a man who is busy loving
someone he can never get his hands on again. 

Father’s Day was freaking beautiful. I handled the baby wakeups in the night, the kids woke up at 545, I ordered breakfast to be delivered by postmates. We made pancakes with Gabriel while we took turns eating our scrambles with hashbrowns and crispy bacon (Which Kamel ate all of, as he should). It was a sparklingly sunny day, Kamel got presents from Gabe, we went to the park and spent a lot of time looking at baby ducks and fish swimming around in ponds, Fae napped deliciously, Gabe refused his nap but was super cute about it, and then we went over to my parents for barbecued halibut and steaks. I mean, that describes heaven, does it not?