Where Did Lauren Go?

Where am I? I have been asking myself this question. Where did I go? I have been drowning in survival. You guys know this. I mention it sometimes. And it is also very apparent in my lack of posting, and the parent-centric themes I touch on now, much more frequently than ever before.

WHERE ARE YOU LAUREN?

Where did Lauren go?

It is so important to my inner core of self that I continue to have adventures, continue to do things that challenge me, continue to have FUN that doesn’t involve my children or my family, but is jusst about me. It is important to my creative soul, to my inner voice that I have new experiences, to travel, to experience art, to LIVE this whole life. And wow doesn’t that sound privileged and whiny? It does. I apologize.

It’s just that… my wells have run dry. I have not gone anywhere new, experienced new culture or new food, or done anything that pushed myself beyond myself for reasons that were not: Children, Job, Family… in almost 2 years or more?

I am not just this one part of me that works all day, stairs out the same window with the same view, does the same bedtime routine with the kids, wears the same stretched out leggings, and eats the same Trader Joes taquitos every day for lunch. None of us are those things. But here I am.

I have felt older and more tired and the least inspired I have ever felt in my entire life during the last 5-ish months. I am just now starting to recognize the why. I don’t want to feel this way anymore. I don’t want to feel old and like I look like a grey, worn out ghost of my former self at 31. I should not feel like the oldest, saddest looking one of my friends when I go out. I should not feel like an empty shell. Where did Lauren go? It’s time that I do the work to find her.

The Night

Every night we have a plan. Most nights it is executed flawlessly. It is a dance where someone cries or calls out and we both go stiff. One person touching the other with a firm hand.

“Don’t move,” the firm hand says. “Don’t breath. Don’t cough. Don’t crinkle the sheets. Wait.”

We listen. Is the voice muffled? Are they laying down? Are they covered? Or are they sitting up? Do you see her eyes peeking above the crib? I see almost nothing it is so dark. Is she getting too loud? Will she wake her brother? Is she moving in the crib because he is getting too loud?

Sometimes they settle and I fall back asleep without even knowing. Most of the time the firm hand becomes a pat.

Parents ACTIVATE.

And even then it is a seamless dance that most of the time interrupts sleep very little. Or maybe it is just something we’ve gotten used to. The 11 pm freeze, 4am wake up, the 6am alarm.

And then other times It’s 2:30 am and I’m cradling my 24 lb 10 month old like she’s a tiny baby, her giant noggin nestled into the crook of my elbow, and I’m humming and swaying and humming and swaying. And I close my eyes and sway and think actual thoughts that go like this, “Could I sleep standing up?” And I’m impressed with my ability to hold her like that and rock and sway and hum, because she is heavy, but my arms can take it. They can take it now. I mentally pat myself on the back for all of those recent pushups.

And I’m tired. I am so tired. And of course I’m also on my period. The new mother-of-2-periods that threaten to wash me away every month. And I’m swaying with my feet rooted firmly in the ground, in the very dark night, humming, and all the while feeling with certainty that my overnight pad is over flowing, but there is absolutely nothing I can do about. And I don’t know a more glaring image of motherhood than this.

All the while, Kamel is in with the toddler who is awake because who knows. Maybe because he got a new pillow yesterday. Maybe because his little sister will not stop crying. But I’ve bought Kamel some time, I think. If I can sway and keep her silent for thirty minutes I bet Gabe will go to sleep and then we can handle whatever insanity is happening with Fae.

This is not the first time we’re up with them. This is the third, maybe? But in the night you lose count. In the night you are just hoping that each time is the one and only, the last, the fluke.

Before this moment we had both given up. Gabe was crying out for the 4th time, Fae was crying in her crib, and we both burrowed under our pillows and hoped they would just exhaust each other. Maybe we can wait it out? But it just got worse.

In the night teamwork is paramount. Being on each other’s side, regrouping, and knowing when to throw in the towel. Ever night can’t be a winner, sometimes the game plan is thrown out the window. And you’re standing in your bedroom, being ruled by a tiny dictator who wants to only be held like a baby and swayed and hummed at. Tomorrow will be better.

**Editor note: Eventually I gave up, and Fae cried in her crib for 20 minutes until I brought Gabe a new pillow in his bedroom and Kamel took Fae, I took Gabriel to the bathroom, and finally got him settled in bed. The evening ended with both Kamel and I on the couch in the living room while Fae cried and passed out with multiple limbs sticking out of the slats of her crib. Because I am a ninja, I was able to stick those limbs back inside the crib without waking her up. And we got a solid 3 hours a sleep. The end.

Finding the Happies

It has been a very long time since I have done a Happies post. And I absolutely need some of your happy inspiration. I hope my list finds some of you in your deep dark places and sheds some light on the good stuff. The stuff that is really getting me through lately are all the tiny things that poke holes in my worry and stress.

Being able to work out 4 days a week and taking the kids on walks on the weekend.

Piggy backing on that thought – how I am finally feeling strong again, how I am seeing improvement and how carrying my kids is no longer an endurance test on my back and arms and core.

Talking Rain sparkling water in the can. I love the crack of opening a can of fizzy beverage. And I have now become obsessed with plain ‘ol sparkling water like some kind of boring person.

Almost being carded by a bartender last weekend. And then he was laughing at Kamel and I and our loser noobness on being out without the kids and not feeling cool enough to be anywhere. And then he was like “I have kids too!” and then it turned out he was basically our neighbor.

Looking forward to a summer and fall full of happy events for friends and family. Fae’s baptism and all kinds of wedding events for Claire, then family weddings and Margaret’s wedding and then Kathleen’s daughter’s baptism in November. So many happy things marching us along.

Guacamole with anything, and Avocado + hard boiled eggs. My summer lunch of champions.

Fae WALKING. It’s like she is straight out of Dr. Seuss. My little happy chubby walking creature.

Getting my hair died blonde(ish) this weekend. I’m really excited for a new look to shake off my boring/haggard/tired feels.

I negotiated my first raise ever and it worked. (!!)

Gabriel after he has gotten into trouble asking me, “Mama… Are you happy to me?” Meaning: Are you happy with me? And being able to have an actual make-good conversation with my son like he is some kind of PERSON or something.

Our instagram wall, and knowing we get to switch it out again coming in about a month and a half. Picking our current event photos for it is always my favorite thing.

Pedicures are back.

Buying gifts for people. I’ve been on a spree, even though if I were being responsible I really shouldn’t. BUT I CAN’T HELP MYSELF.

Being home and with my people and being able to see them and sniff their babies and run into them at the grocery store and be at all of their life events. It’s all finally happening after so many years away and I just don’t know if I’ll ever be over how amazing it all feels. That here we are, grownups, and I love them more and more every year that goes by. With every silent look across the room and every milestone and every glass of wine in our sweats and every event planned, it just gets better.

At the beginning of this post I had a laundry list of negatives to write down and now all I feel is warm. What are your happies?

 

 

Updates

Hello! It is nearing the end of May! What?! I wanted to check in on some things and give you some updates since my little blog and (sort of large) podcast break.

First – new design! Simpler! Cleaner! I feel like I’ve shed so much baggage. I loved the art and still love the art, but I had hired a web designer to make my blog exactly what I wanted and dude completely half-assed it, making some things really wonky. During the process he treated me like I was small potatoes, lapsing on deadlines and then telling me he had much larger clients to worry about. But I was already paying him $200 and had invested too much time and energy into the process. So, I just gritted my teeth and waited it out. When I told him certain things didn’t work he would push back and say it worked on his end. Very frustrating. And then! A few weeks ago! A porn site hacked my SEO so when I was searched on google, those who clicked through just got really crappy porn. Sigh.

So! Now everything is clean and crisp! Header and avatar drawn by my sister-in-law Regina! And my back end is hacker free. Woo hoo!

Second! My mom podcast is going so well! So if you miss the BIRL podcast or are looking for discussions about parenting that are honest, realistic, and funny – World’s Okayest Moms most recent episode is about traveling with kids and you can listen to it straight from this website if you don’t have a podcast listener of choice.

The Duprez household is going through some rough times right now. More on that in the coming weeks, but for now – any thoughts and energies sent our way would be most helpful. Sorry to be vague-y vague. It is generally not my style, but this is one of those sensitive topics. Lemons you guys, we got some. (And not in the Beyonce burn it all down cuz you cheated one me way, promise. If trifling was happening, an entire army couldn’t prevent me from talking about that is.)

Have an amazing weekend and I will be back with more content next week!

Fae @ 10 Months

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(Fae at 9 months)

Fae at 10 months is joy, always joy, but she is also so very formidable. She falls down and doesn’t cry, she doesn’t toddle – she launches herself forward for 2 and 3 steps before falling forward.

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She attacks her brother with gusto. She is not ever timid. She is skeptical of strangers and will press her head against my chest. But always in the way where she can still get a good look.

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She can already throw a little tantrum when she doesn’t get what she wants, when she doesn’t get the same attention as other babies. I see fire behind her eyes and I am proud.

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Fae crawls fast. She runs after her brother, trailing behind him as he encourages her to chase him, or flees from her and declares, “No Fae! I don’t LIKE you!” For the moment. Until I hear, “No, mama, that’s my baby. But… but… I want MY baby.” Sorry, kid. Get your own.
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She is slowly morphing into a toddler and I am not ready!
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I am not ready to be approaching one year. But, no matter, it comes anyway.
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Ten months, still my baby. My last baby. Right? Oh if they could all be like Fae. Or like Gabriel. If only I didn’t have to be pregnant. GAH. If only we could afford a house that was big enough for ten babies!
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 Oh Fae, you happy minx. You give me baby fever constantly.
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(Fae @ 10 months)

Episode 16: The End of Season 1

This episode has been delayed for SO many reasons. The kids being sick, the perfect storm of birthday, traveling, and an INSANE two weeks of working an immense amount of hours. It left my little podcast last on my priority list.

But here we are. A whole season complete. Sixteen weeks of podcasting, sixteen different episodes. Thank you so much for going on this little experiment journey with me. There were some things that I super loved and some things I cringe at. Have I ever listened to a full episode after it’s been recorded? No. Will I ever? Probably not. My expectations for myself are too high and I already know I don’t meet them. But I’m getting there! I’m trying!

Season 2 will be back June 8th! That’s a hard and fast date, so get your podcast listening devices primed and ready. Until then, we will be recording new material, so please don’t stop sending us your relationship disputes, your marriage and life conundrums, or your straight up goofy confessions.

As always get at me by email: birlpodcast@gmail.com

… or by the show’s voicemail: 415 275 0551

Oh! And if the podcast drought is making you twitch, I have a second – parenting only – podcast that I am still recording every other Tuesday with my ladies Kelly and Hayley. You can catch the World’s Okayest Moms podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Things, April

I have been writing a Things post in my mind for weeks, but have not had the time to sit down and make this beauty happen. So here we are. It is Wednesday (when I am writing this) and it feels like Friday. I have to keep remembering that the week is not yet over. This has been a long one, folks. The month seemed to have zoomed by, but my god the weeks… they keep a draggin’ on.

My shower routine has gone all topsy turvy and I am so enjoying it. I think I’m over lemon soap. I was on a kick for years, and I think I need a solid break. I had this huge bar of verbena soap and it is still there, being used, but it’s been like… probably months at this point, and I am OVER IT. I keep thinking about all the mint scented soap I need in my life. It’s been a distraction. Also: In shower moisturizer. Mind go kablooy!! I know Miss Diana in comments, many moons ago, suggested this wonder product to me but I have just recently been able to have the browsing time in Target to find it in the lotion aisle. I did have to abandon the kids with Kamel and flee with the cart before they noticed though. Worth it. My question to the way more knowledgeable internet (and I already poised this question on twitter, so thank you again for those insights): right now I am using Nivea in shower lotion, but it is a little manly scented for my taste. I don’t feel like I can layer my perfume on it. Does anyone use one that has a more subtle scent? Less deodorant-y?

Still hunting for rabbits houses. Kamel keeps telling me it’s like dating and I keep telling him I HATE DATING. The worst part is when a week goes by and there isn’t even anything worth looking at on the market. Seattle market, why do you suck so fucking hard? And every month passes is a month we are paying too much on month-to-month rent in our current overflowing apartment. It’s a month that goes by with Fae still in our room and me weeping to HGTV shows. I know “it only takes one” but if the kids are grown and we’re still living on top of each other, what then… WHAT THEN? Stay tuned for more wallowing.

Have I told you lately how much I love buying my kids clothing? I love shopping for them. Shopping for me is annoying, my body is still all squishy and oddly shaped in the gut region. But the kiddos! The kiddos can wear whatever and it looks fantastic. Gabe has been less fun to shop for because he hasn’t been growing as fast as before so lately all I’ve been able to pick out is goofy underpants. But Fae! Darling Fae! She seems to always be in need of something. Pants, jackets, summer clothes, socks, shirts, you name it. Mostly because she is still barfing all over herself on a regular basis. And also because babies grow so quickly and I just never seem to be able to keep her drawers full. But lazily shopping for her? My favoritest thing ever.

What are your things this month? What has been happening in your world? It’s almost May…!

Fae @ 9 Months

This post is so late that it is ridiculous. I don’t even really remember when 8 months ended and when the transition to nearly 10 months began. So I’m not even going to try to write a big post about her updates and just save it all for next month.

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Fae @ 8 months

Here are the facts I do know for sure:

Hand Foot and Mouth is a horrible virus and I am sorry for shrugging it off every time someone else’s kid got it. Right before 9 months Fae looked like this:

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And this…

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Ooofff. So much sympathy. I’m putting these here so I don’t forget. #neverforget

Other things I know for sure:

  1. Fae weighs 21 lbs!
  2. …and she is 28.25 inches long
  3. And her melon is 44.75 cm

And it is all totally proportional. And adorable. And chunky monkey. And I love it.

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Fae @ 9 months, on the last few days of HFM, nakey on the scale. My heart.

Crumbolicious – Treat Yo Self

*Post Edit: The winner of the giveaway is…. JENNY! I’ll be contacting you shortly so you can choose your cake!*

A few weeks ago I was approached to host a sponsored post. I used to love doing these because they were interesting and fun and felt like the best kind of grad school writing assignments, but lately I just don’t have time to take on extra projects beyond my other extra projects. BUT THEN – the hook. I would be writing about my experience with CAKE. And I’d be able to experience baked goods delivered straight to me for free! And AND and …. I’d be able to host a giveaway that would allow one of my lovely, dedicated, thoughtful, baked-goods-loving readers to also receive FREE CAKE. (See the bottom of this post for details)

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Crumbolicious makes many things – including brownies and cookies – that can be delivered directly to you, fresh and delicious. But what they are really, really good at is making these amazing crumble cakes. Like coffee cakes on crack because they now involve chocolate and chocolate chip and several other amazing why-didn’t-I-think-of-that flavors!

Continue reading “Crumbolicious – Treat Yo Self”

The Year I Was 30

Two things first:

  1. This is the first time that this post has gone up late. It is usually a post that I am writing for many days before it goes live, and this year this post is being written today and going live this evening. I’m getting it time stamped just before the buzzer. That is a very good metaphor for how the last 6 months have been.
  2. I really am genuinely surprised an entire year has flown by already. It seemed suspiciously fast. I haven’t even had a chance to catch my breath and think about what 30 has been like. There has been NO TIME. Because my 30th birthday was last week and now I am 31 and what the fuck do I do with that?

Ok, with those things in mind… here we are. One whole year has shimmied past like a crazy flasher you think you saw, you’re pretty sure you saw, did you just see? Yes. You did.

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My 30th birthday looked like this.

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And I mean, that right there is a pretty fantastic 30th birthday while pregnant. If I do say so myself.

At the end of April I stopped working and went on pregnancy leave. And you guys, this pregnancy hurt. It hurt so much. It hurt to walk, it hurt to sleep, it hurt all over. I felt like shit for weeks and weeks at the end. Some days just needing to sleep, some days being too exhausted to even stand in the kitchen chopping vegetables. It was rough times. And it was HOT AS FUCK TIMES.

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Let’s just pause for a minute and meditate on how ROCKSTAR FABULOUS MY HAIR WAS. Damn, Gina.

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We also got our very first professional family portraits done by Rachelle! I can’t wait to hang them in our future, pretend land, hypothetical house someday!

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And honestly, that was the summer. It was hot, I was uncomfortable, we were in the wading pool and in splash parks as much as possible, I lived on my couch in front of our portable A/C unite as it whirred and whirred away.

And then my daughter was born. And I have never loved anything as immediately as I loved Fae.

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The weird thing about that, though, is that for basically all of the rest of July and all of August and maybe into September I was pretty sure we had made a huge mistake in having two kids. Like, I loved them both and I wanted them both just …. maybe not at the same time? A dilemma, indeed. Thankfully, that got better with time and now Gabriel and Fae were 100% meant to be together. Parts of themselves exist in the other.

Starting in August I was job searching a ton. Had several interviews, but nothing really materialized. Then in October I started working for a book writing/packaging company that works with a variety of publishers writing and repackaging non-fiction kid books and fiction young readers. It is a super fulfilling job, it is also insanely time consuming. And I am so grateful to my grad school friend, Jenny, in thinking of me for this position. One of those rare times where knowing people actually does pan out. (That’s never happened to me before.)

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In October, my Dad turned 60 and we all went to the beach for a long weekend. It was our first time out with the four of them. It was a ton of work just packing the car. But it was also adorable.

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All through the fall we had visitors to meet Fae, we all worked full time, and we also started Fae in daycare. Our new normal became set.

For the second year in a row, but for different reasons, Christmas was an incredibly exhausting experience. Wrangling two kids and all of their presents and family and trying to be in the moment and grateful and have meaningful check ins with everyone was…. too much.

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But Gabe was so stoked for presents for the first time ever and seeing that was total magic.

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In January Fae and I went on our first solo trip together! We went to Chicago to meet up with Claire and visit Maris and her new daughter, Sophia.

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It was like an airplane nursing marathon.

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It was some much needed best friend time …

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…and future best friend time.

In January Kamel and I also started the BIRL Podcast! We hadn’t embarked on a new creative venture in a long time and this one really did push me out of my comfort zone. I am so excited that it has been a success! Every time we sit down to record I am a little less terrified, but still pretty terrified. I have never listened to a podcast all the way through. I listen to it in bits and pieces… sometimes… just to make sure it is all there or to approve a transition, etc etc. but I have never full listened to one, and I probably won’t. It’s just too much self scrutiny.

February was winter and the kids and working and one week at a time.

March was Gabe’s third birthday!

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And we finally had enough saved to get pre-approved for the loan we wanted. In March we started our house hunting experience. An experience I grit my teeth through and pray for the best. We are still pushing through, scouring our house portal set up by our agents, visiting a half a dozen homes every week, scrutinizing the details, strategizing on what to offer, and on and on and on.

This April has definitely been the most exhausting month of my life. I have been working 10-12 hour days consistently, Fae was so sick with hand, foot, and mouth, and every spare moment Kamel and I are trying to find our next home. I have never been more tired. I have never felt like I’ve had more purpose in my life. The laundry has never been so abandoned.

Today, on my 31st birthday, I work up at 6am and got an hour in of work before the kids woke up. Kamel took Gabe to school while Fae hung back with me, so we could take her to her 9 month check up. Claire stopped by for a surprise delivery of balloons and pastry! The best! We had cake, picked out by Gabriel, presents, and pizza (delivered by my parents) after work. We have been scrambling to pack and prep for our trip to visit Kamel’s family in Miami tomorrow, between diaper changes and bed times and stories and hugs and all of the normal family hubbub. I am again, more tired than I ever thought I could consistently function through. I am again, alone on the couch at the end of an evening, toys and books on the ground, diaper bags and baby carriers on the couch, dirty bottles left in the sink.

But I am full. I am topped off to the brimmy brim. The year went by so quickly because I was running. Running with babies strapped to my back, running to catch up, running after the next big adventure. But the energy that is fueling this marathon? Is here, it is all of this, it is the pajamas from yesterday still sitting on the red chair, it is my yellow teapot from my sister in laws that makes me happy every time I see it, it is my best friends thinking of me and loving on me, it is being home in this place with my people, it is being ever confident in who I am and what I want and loving all of the people who I have surrounding me. If this is what my 30s are, I only want more.

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