The Dishwasher Part 1

Remember when I talked about the bats in the attic? How we all have fears knocking on our doors that we turn the volume up on? We ignore them or leave them for another day. Home ownership has removed a few of those fears (will we be able to afford the next rent hike?), but has added new ones.

Like: Will our roof suddenly leak?

Like: Will we be able to afford the sudden expense of something failing?

Like: Infestations.

Like: What if I don’t know that something is wrong because I don’t know anything about anything and then it’s too late and we have a problem that is 3x what it should be because Lauren is stupid.

And then last week our dishwasher leaked. And we discovered this problem when Kamel went into the crawl space and there was water there. And water was leaking from above. Through the insulation. We discovered this at 8pm. The plumbers came the next day. And the day after that the restoration people.

(Thanks, dishwasher, you piece of shit.)

The day the restoration people came was Gabe’s birthday and we were supposed to have a family party at our house.

Except that, um, this was our kitchen:

I did not bake him a cake for the first time… ever. We moved the party to my parent’s party room in their condo, and when we got home from Gabe’s birthday shenans the restorers were still working. They had a 12 hour day ripping up 7 layers of floors. Surprise! No one ever removed old flooring before putting new ones down! which means new floor will be about an inch lower than it was before.

The fans in the kitchen were blowing 24 hours a day for two days and then fans in our crawl space were blowing 24 hours a day for 4 days. We have no cupboards on that side of the kitchen and our counter top is being held up by those pieces of wood you see.

We do most of our dishes in the bathroom sinks.

The insurance guy comes tomorrow but this is still going to cost us SURPRISE money. And take months to fix.

Just a few days before we discovered the leak I had booked, with the help of a lovely internet friend (Hi Bri!), a family vacation to San Diego for May. Our first family vacation with just our family since Gabe was 18 months old. But, because we try to be responsible adults whenever possible, we had to turn around and cancel it because…. see above.

The kitchen is tented off with plastic zipper doors on the two portal entrances. And we are trying to keep our cooking/eating footprint as small as possible. It has been a mild inconvenience at best, and at worst it is an absolute scramble. We can use the kitchen, but I have to keep the kids out of there (zipper door wins!) and that makes cooking dinner and solo parenting difficult when I can’t see them and they can’t see me. Even when the doors are unzipped.

So the first homeownership bad thing happened. A sudden kitchen remodel. Surprise! I wonder what will happen next…To Be Continued.

The Birthday Video – Gabe’s 4th Year

Every year we think for months about which song to assign the kids’ current year of life. This year the Gypsy Kings spoke to Gabe. 🙂

Gabe is Four

Gabriel is now a kid. That is the news of the day. He can reach the toaster while standing on the kitchen floor. He no longer wears pullups to bed. He pees standing up. He eats apples (!!) without cutting them up. He makes 1,000 fart and poop jokes a day. He tells me, “Moooom I’m just being FUNNY,” when I don’t get it. When I mom-it-up.

Gabriel is so easy to play with. I say, “Gabe do you want to play with me with your boat?” YES. YES HE DOES. And I let him lead a grand adventure about ghosts and witches and animals that die. Die die die. They always die. Terrible things are always befalling everyone. And hexes. So many hexes.

He is up to play any game I make up. He is up for it all.

“Ok, you have to try and keep the ball up in the air for as long as you can, but you can only hit it with one hand and you have to be sitting and you have to sit on the hand you’re not using.”

These are my rules. He makes sure we all follow them and take turns.

He loves and hide and seek. But he isn’t very good at concealing where he is hiding or even where he wants to hide. If it is my turn and he likes where I’ve just hidden, he will tell me, as I am walking away to count, that he is going to hide there too. We are trying to teach him the point of the game, but so far have not succeeded.

He whines. Oh god, the whining. He stomps his little feet and throws a mini tantrum when I tell him no. His whining makes me not want to give him anything ever in life.

His favorite characters are the bad guys. Always the bad guys. They are the most interesting, the most complicated, the most magical.

He likes to be carried, facing out, so he can fly like a bird. If he stops flapping he wants us to start to slowly drop him to the ground until he starts flapping again. He is heavy. This is hard. We indulge him.

His dad is his absolute best friend. On Monday mornings he is sad to say goodbye to his dad when he leaves for work or when we drive away, leaving Kamel to grab his coat and lock up before heading to the bus stop.

When Gabriel gets scared or hurt that is where I’m most needed. Any injustice? Mom. Sometimes when he tumbles off something I quickly say, “Gabriel! Are you ok?!” And he shrugs me off. “Stop saying that!” as he jumps back up. Sometimes when he startles himself I hover over him, giving him the wide eyed shocked face of “woah.” He looks up at me with initial concern until one of us starts to laugh. He will try and hide is smirk and say, “Stop it….” but the giggles are too much. “That was funny,” I say. He will mock fall over again as we both laugh.

Last week we were driving home from somewhere just before nap time and I didn’t want him to fall asleep in the car and truncate his actual nap. I looked back and his eyes were starting to close. I said “Gabriel, don’t fall asleep buddy, we’re almost home.” He looked at me and then turned his head to the side and with absolute defiance squeezed his eyes shut as hard as he could. It made me laugh so much. We were both laughing. He is a really funny kid.

He has also been hiding one of the loose bricks in the front of our house and driving Kamel mad about it. For a long time Kamel couldn’t figure out where the brick had gone and who had taken it. Then we found it around the side of the house and Kamel couldn’t stop talking about who could have possibly put it over there. (I continually said it was the kids, Kamel was not convinced.) Then one day Kamel caught Gabe in the act of re-hiding it. When he asked why he was doing it, Gabriel said “because I wanted you to think it was monsters!” while laughing. He is already playing tricks on us at barely 4 years old.

February: I Was Told There’d Be Cake, Sloane Crosley

Month two of the BIRL Book Club is now over! I read I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley and I hate hate hate to admit this but I was… underwhelmed. I felt old and weathered reading it. I felt like a grumpy old lady, rolling her eyes, and thinking (against my very hip and aware will) “oh you just wait and see.” Oh my gosh I was so annoying, even to myself.

Here’s the thing. This book was published in 2008. Before the great recession. Before I graduated grad school only to flounder financially. Before entry level jobs were no longer falling from the sky in one’s chosen field. Before people lost their family home or had to go back to work at 70 because their retirement up and vanished.

This was also the height of the blog. The lifestyle blog was going strong. Everyone had quirky design tips. Everyone had slightly self-deprecating stories that made them feel unique and interesting. This was probably written before literally every single personal story archetype had been published on the internet.

I think I’m a solid 5 years too late reading this book to appreciate it.

I think I’m old and weathered and tired and when I spend my last moments of awake time reading about people in their early 20s it just annoys me that they are so self centered.

I did think some of the parts were funny though – and I did actually laugh out loud at a few. Especially the story about her first job. That was… ridiculous and horrifying and I enjoyed it immensely.

Have you read this book? Did you read it recently? Did you read it like 5 years ago? Am I just being a grumpy gus? What was your favorite part? Where did you eye roll so hard you thought maybe that was just your face now?

March is for America’s First Daughter and I am SOOOOOO excited for it!! I love historical fiction! Come read along with me!

Things, February

I mentioned to Kamel the other day, “Remember that time I had a blog?” Because… echo echo echo. Sorry about my lameness. We were traveling and then you know, the president is a dictator and every day our freedoms are chipped away at and the world is crumbling all around me. And I continue to feel more and more hopeless because it isn’t just the president it’s the whole GOP and no one actually cares about serving the people or making the government run better, it’s 100% about their own pocket book and the sweet sweet payout. House of Cards is real. And I don’t feel like I have any power.

So there’s that.

Other things… Oh! I’ve actually felt like this winter has flown by. It’s already lighter in the evenings and I didn’t feel oppressed by the darkness really at all. Except when the light was disappearing and I felt panic we would all turn into sad mole people. But it didn’t happen. Hooray!

I read this article last week about how family vacations are fantastic for your kids, how they build permanent happy memories that help them during hard times. So we’re booking a quick-ish trip to San Diego in the spring. I love family vacations. We haven’t had a family adventure vacation since Gabe was 18 months old. WHAT. Unacceptable. It’s practically child abuse. Is what I’m telling myself.

I went to my OBGYN recently for a checkup and we spent the first 5 minutes of the visit gushing over how we have the same topshop coat and how it makes us feel like badasses. It was the highlight of my day, and how many people can actually say that?

I thought after the holidays things would chill out, but there has been 0 chill to report. Travel (yay!) and social events (more yay!) have kept us running and running and running full steam ahead through our weekends. Plus trying to do things for the kids, like swim at the YMCA and explore new parks, take them to the aquarium, etc etc. Be good parents blahblah.

I miss having a calm mind that allows me to collect myself and to share here. Its so jumbled and stressed that even when I sit down to write something it all sounds dumb. But I miss you guys! And I love hearing from you! And just know that I’m working on it. 🙂

It Doesn’t Matter If People Like You

I’ve been chewing on something all week. While reading the comments of an article with a racially charged headline (about how black people don’t like white people, or “why I don’t like white people,” or “why I don’t trust white women” etc etc there have been many recently) I had this lightbulb moment.

It doesn’t actually matter if a minority person or group likes white people. It doesn’t matter if the entire race of people thinks I am the white she-devil. It is still necessary to stand up for human rights. It is still unacceptable for people to be murdered by police. They are not judge jury and executioner. It doesn’t matter if every member of the LGBTQ community calls me a breeder to my FACE. It is still important for them to have basic human rights, job protection, and marriage equality.

And it’s not like I don’t have feelings. It sucks to hear that people don’t trust white women. Because, Hi. Hello. White Woman Speaking. My gut reaction is always “No! Don’t feel that way!” But do people have to be my friends in order to fight for safety, for freedom, for equality? I would like to think that I could hate every single man on the planet and still have expectations that they stand the fuck up in the face of rape, sexual assault, and harassment. I mean, it won’t happen, who am I kidding? BUT I WOULD LIKE TO THINK.

So anyways… no one has to be liked or given a pat on the back to do the right thing. It seems so simple, and yet… seems to be a major hurdle for many.

A Month In

It is a little, teensy bit over a month into 2017 and how are things going?

Did you make goals for yourself this year? Did you do some soul searching on items you wanted to tackle or places inside you that you wanted to rearrange?  What did you come up with? And how has life been tweaked to accommodate those things? Have their already been some successes (I think: yes), have you run into some roadblocks?

How has the political climate impacted your life? Has it changed you?

I had some pretty broad goals for myself this year. I wanted to get outside more, even in these winter months. I spend a LOT of time indoors. If I didn’t have to drop off the kids at school or pick them up I could easily go m-f with never leaving my house. I didn’t like this. I love walking outside and when I was in an office I would always walk during my lunch. Being at home there are always other things I COULD be doing (laundry! netflix!). So since the New Year I have made an effort to get outside during the day at twice a week. I would prefer 3 times, but… life. I’ve been able to get the kids early a few days and taken them to the park. And I’ve been able to step outside for 40 minutes here and there, which as been lovely and made me appreciate my new neighborhood even more. I would call this a success but still a work in progress.

I wanted to drink less. Even though I really do enjoy a beer while making dinner, I felt like it didn’t totally allign with my health goals and can make me sluggish in the evenings with the kids. I’ve reduced my daily beer to 3-4 times a week and reduced the amount of alcohol in my beers, which has been great! I always feel like I could do better with this, but having a beer during the week is also one of my small joys – so balance.

I wanted to get more sleep and though some of that is out of my control because children, I feel like I have created a very calming nightly routine, especially with reintroducing reading to my evenings. I have hit a good rhythm. (Though still so tired.)

The world of politics can be incredibly exhausting for me. I think that’s true of most people. But I can get incredibly hopeless. I’m impatient and I feel a large gap between me and the people who have the actual power to DO things. This administration in particular doesn’t see me. And if they do, I believe their outlook is one of disgust or aggressive indifference, if there is such a thing. The positive thing is that it has spurred me, and many others, to put our beliefs into actions. I’m not actually any different than I was before this whole election crap. I believe all the same things I did before, but I feel less like a impostor when fighting for the things I believe and showing up. I also have to balance the health of my family, the health of my mind, my stress and anxiety levels, with being an active voice in this big big world. Sometimes I need to go swimming with my kids or see a movie with my friends instead of marching on the streets. That sounds so dumb to say because I have a lot of guilt about that. And I am always feeling pulled in all of these directions. But, if I do not sometimes take a break from the relentless news cycle, the bad news cycle, then what am I even fighting for?

I’m in need of some community today. Tell me how things are, tell me where you’re at. Tell me where you’re succeeding and where you need a hand.

January: My Life On the Road, Gloria Steinem

Here we are! The first review and discussion in the BIRL Book Club! YAY! I have to say, My Life On the Road was perfectly timed and it had absolutely nothing to do with current events. Whoops. The reason I chose it first was because I already had it from seeing Gloria Steinem speak, and in order to get this review out on time I couldn’t wait for the rest of the book list to get to me. Happy accident, though, because it was exactly what I needed to be reading at this exact time.

I started reading it the week before the March on Washington and this book filled me with incredible purpose and incredible drive to keep going on and on and on.

The books speaks on many levels, lest you think this is killjoy feminist drivel. It’s a memoir of Gloria Steinem’s life and career through all of her time traveling the world and the United States. The book is one of those that demands to be read from cover to cover. Don’t skip the dedication, don’t skip the appendage. It’s all good. Every last drop.

The paragraphs that I keep coming back to in my mind are some that I’m going to share here. (And for anyone who has read this book, please tell me what you keep chewing on. There are so many moments that Gloria has lived and thought about and bared witness to and I’m sure you are all chewing on something.)

[When speaking about her mother]

If I pressed and said, “But why didn’t you leave? Why didnt you take my sister and go to New York?” she would say it didn’t matter, that she was lucky to have my sister and me. If I pressed hard enough she would add, “If I’d left, you never would have been born.”

I never had the  courage to say: But you would have been born instead.

As a mother I have to work to still have a self. I have to work to not be swallowed up by my children while still doing my best by them. This part breaks me. It is too common that women are trapped by children because they have no choices. Because they have too many. Because they didn’t know there were any other options.

But where this book was its biggest educational win for me, was in explaining the history of intersectional feminism, and how second wave feminism was largely intersectional. BUT that getting the media, at the time largely run by men, to GET IT and run with it, was incredibly difficult. Second wave feminists have been pushing for intersectionality for decades, and our love of boxes has been making that message muddy. Betty Friedan didn’t help either.

I finished this book on the plane home from DC. I read the majority of it in flight, as I think it is best digested. It frustrated me just how much I did not know because women’s issues don’t make the news. It frustrated me how much what we’ve been pushing for we are still pushing for. It made me love Gloria Steinem even more for her ability to talk about her regrets, her mistakes, her personal shortcomings while also paying homage to the many women who helped her along the way. It made me want to listen more. Listen and learn and offer assistance.

If you haven’t read this book, you should read this book. If you have read this book, talk to me about it in comments!

Friday Happies

I actually tried to write this post earlier in the week and I felt like everything I was saying was a lie. So, let’s try again. Also – I went back and tried to find the last time I had done this and it has been a very, very long time. This needs to be weekly. We all need to be remembering and focusing on the small joys every week.

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Hot tea and my yellow tea kettle from my Sisters In Law. Literally before they bought me my kettle, I was boiling water in a little (non-stick for all your cancer needs) pot, and then dumping it into a mug. This seemed like a totally reasonable activity… until I got a teapot.

Mint soap is back in my bathroom and I love it beyond beyond.

I bought some new clothing staples for the kids as we get through the long days of winter and the oncoming spring. They arrived this week! And it really is one of my favorite things to open up boxes of kid clothes.

Fae calls for her brother, but she doesn’t say Gabriel. She calls, “Hermanooooo! Mannooo!!!”

We had a parent/teacher conference for Gabriel this week and it went really well! He can count continuously up to 29 and if you remind him that 30 is after 29, he will keep going! In English and Spanish! Who knew!

We are doing lots of fun social things in February! This includes: A grownup trip to Miami to meet our niece, Lola! Our Oscar party! My goddaughter’s first birthday! Going to a food and wine event (which always makes me feel like a judge on top chef)!

This weekend I am having a girl’s night to see DIRTY DANCING in THEATERS. WHAT. This is ridiculous and fantastic.

The YMCA near us has remodeled and they have a brand new pool and lots of open swim hours. I bought Fae a bathing suit and this weekend it’s a whole-family-in-the-pool event. Gabe has been talking about it for 2 weeks.

My hair is almost all caught up with itself after the great exodus post Fae’s birth. Getting ready to grow my hair long long long AND dye it dark again. I’m not feeling very sunny and blonde lately, you feel me?

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What do you have that is giving you hope/the warm and fuzzies/small moments of secret smiles? Please share. We all need it.

My Women’s March Think Piece

…because there needs to be more of them, right? I actually think there does.

I woke up at 3am to catch my flight. I had my bags mostly packed and I grabbed a lyft to the airport, leaving my husband at the door and the kids asleep. I was happy that I would be on my second flight of the day during the inauguration so that I wouldn’t have to see it on CNN in the airport or watch the responses live on social media. I was not exactly excited when I got to the airport, I was mostly nervous and sad. If I let myself, I could pretend like I still lived in a vacuum where Trump wasn’t peacefully becoming the President, but the entire morning felt like the end of something.

In the security line I kept my eyes out for pink. Every single woman wearing any kind of pink I happily assumed was going to the Women’s March. That was probably untrue, but you’ll never prove it to me. I kept my pussy hat in my purse. This is where I’m going to admit to being a little bit too cool for school. It’s not a proud thing to admit. It runs through my whole life. I don’t like looking silly or standing out in public. I feel safest as an anonymous person. I don’t want people to see me.

When I made it to my gate there was a gaggle of women in pink hats over to one side. I went over and sat near them, I smiled. I still didn’t take out my pink hat. I watched as it became clear that they didn’t know each other, but it seemed like they did. They were taking photos together and sharing swag. Another woman came and sat near us. And another. And another. I saw one sheepishly take out her hat. “I’ve never knitted anything before,” she said. She was apologizing for the hat mess. But everyone just encouraged her and cheered. Literally cheered. Another woman took out her hat. And another. I took mine out and set it on my lap. I undid my pony tail and fluffed my hair. I slid my hat on and kept my eyes to the floor. I was a little embarrassed now that I had waited so long. One of the women in the original group asked all of us if we could take a group photo. On several women’s phones there is a group photo with me in it and a bunch of strangers.

One of the women, who said she was a teacher, started passing out stickers.

“Do you want a sticker?”

“YES!” I said.

“I have others that don’t have swear words, if you don’t like swear words,” she said.

“I love swear words,” I said.

As I walked on the plane I started out confident. But very quickly wanted to shrink away. Many men stared at me, glared at me. I heard whispers and hisses of “feminist.” I saw eye rolls and sneers. I stood straighter. The feeling was awful. I realized that the rareness of this experience is white privilege. I get to live anonymously, while many people of color never ever do.

On my second flight out of Denver there were so many hats. So so many. There were only a few people who were not going to the march on my plane. The flight had a buzz running through it of excitement. We were asked to all stand up (if attending the march), and turn for a photo. These photos ended up on a Buzzfeed list later that day. In my row all three of us were headed to the march. A 70 year old grandmother (who liked like she was 50, if I’m being honest), a 24 year old grad student, and 31 year old me. I got choked up when the older woman told us we had to keep fighting, that it would be ok, that we’d get through this, but that it was going to be hard. All three of us chatted for three hours.

I also want to talk about how I was afraid. It seems stupid to say now, but as I was headed toward DC no one knew how this would turn out. Would someone try to hurt large numbers of us to make a statement? Would violence break out? There were so many possibilities for something to go wrong. I had taken photos of my kids the night before I left. Purposefully. I looked at them before my flights. I was afraid, but I kept going. There were times,even though I could see the other travelers with similar purposes, where I felt like a lone soldier.

The morning of the march I was really excited. I wanted to get there, I wanted to see the people, I wanted to be in it. Walking over to the rally point the streets were absolutely filled with marchers. Women of every age, of every color, of every background were pouring in from all sides. As we walked close and closer the amount of people overwhelmed me in the best way. All of these women, on some level, had been gutted like I had been. All of these women, on some level, had decided to say NO. I had been fairly isolated in my fear/anger/despair. The internet is there, yes, but I mostly sit in my office all day, or sit with my children, or cry to my husband and pull at my hair, and worry that I am yelling into a vast empty hole. But this… tears fell out of my face as we walked by hundreds and thousands and then hundreds of thousands of people. I am not alone. We are not alone. There are many people who were there for a variety of reasons, but the uniting aspect was: THIS IS NOT OK. There really are more of us than there are of them. That has to matter.

OK, now I’m going to touch on a subject that is controversial. Hold on to your butts. I posted the photo of my coat as I was walking onto the plane and then turned off my phone. When I landed in Denver and checked my phone, I was beyond flabbergasted by the amount of support I was seeing. Comments and shares and likes and messages. Text messages, DMs, Facebook messages. I audibly gasped in my seat. The gasp caught in my throat. It is a very rare day where I feel so many people lifting me up, so many people proud of what I’m doing, especially because I initially felt the expense of going was selfish. I worried it was selfish to be doing something I felt more than ever called to participate in – even though it took me away from my family, inconvenienced Kamel, caused me to take a day from work, and cost us money we don’t really have. And then to have all of this support was just… a shock.

Now it has been a few days past the march. And though it may have been one of the biggest demonstrations nation-wide the country has ever seen, it is becoming really trendy to tear it down. Should we talk about why there were less POC? Yes. Let’s talk about it. Does it de-legitimize the purpose and the large show of resistance? No. I am now feeling immense pressure to apologize for the fact that I am a white woman and attended the march. I am feeling pressure to feel shame for attending an event that more POC did not attend. I wish I could have made the march feel more inclusive. I am resisting the urge to talk about how many Black Lives Matter signs I saw, I am resisting the urge to talk about how many POC their were, because it sounds a lot like saying “I HAVE A FRIEND WHO’S BLACK!” I struggle with how to talk about this because I am WHITE and I have FEELINGS and so I feel like those two things make any opinion I have either a cry of “you’re so privileged!” or “Stop putting your discomfort on the shoulders of people of color!”

But here is my truth: Maybe this march brought together people who had never had a political awareness before. Maybe it introduced them to what it feels like to be part of something bigger than themselves. Maybe it inspired them to donate money to causes that help everyone. I think those things are true. What I think is really unhelpful are comments like: “I better see all of these white people at the next Black Lives Matter protest.” How does shaming people who are willing to step out of their comfort zones, who are asking questions, who are willing to learn, who are not career activists help the liberal agenda? And yes, white fragility. So sad, white people with their hurt feelings. But no one likes to feel like the thing they did that was hard for them was worthless. My truth is to have more compassion. Holding a person’s hand and helping them towards a path with more awareness and activism and woke-ness is way more effective than yelling at them and telling them how they still are wrong and uneducated and bad. Should POC be in charge of holding the hands of white people and leading them towards truth? No. And I am definitely not saying the experiences of POC should not be shared regarding the Women’s March. But instead of looking back and saying the march was meaningless, we should be encouraging everyone who participated on that day towards the next event. Towards the next call for social change and resistance of the Trump administration.  Tearing it down, writing think pieces about it’s holes, and turning the viewpoint on itself is on ONE HAND important but an ANOTHER only benefits those who are most afraid of a united women’s movement. Proceed with caution.