Episode 33: Your Call is Important to Us

You guys. YOU GUYS. I was all like “guess what? Imma post once a week!” And then I disappeared off the face of the Earth. It’s how I keep you on your toes.

What happened? WELL! Kamel and I recorded a podcast again. YAY! We are BACK!

Then we went away for a beach vacation with my parents. It was delightful. The kids had a blast. The weather is fantastic. There was swimming and kite flying and sandy toes and board games. The best.

THEN Kamel went away for a business trip to Florida and abandoned me with the children. So it has been a go-go-go month and it will continue to be this level of crazy until after the holidays. But I’ll be here, in this space, as much as I can.

For now, PODCAST. Send us your marriage disputes. We’d love to pick sides.

 

 

New Approach

I battle with myself about whether or not I want to keep writing. There have been times in my life that I have posted and posted and posted and it just was like a river. And other times where it felt like I was reporting the news. This happened. That happened. Now you know.

But I’m struggling. I don’t want this space to die. But I also don’t want to report the news. I want to fire up the podcast again. I want to have this space be beautiful and thoughtful and real.

So for a little while I’m going to start posting once a week. As a writing routine. And to feel less anxious about STARTING. Just starting.

I feel like there is so much to catch you up on that I freeze. Where to even begin? I just need to start. So know this…

The house is still too big for me. But the downstairs is yellow now and that makes me really happy.

Kamel got a new job which gave us less money, but we restructured our finances and are budgeting really well so it FEELS like we have more financial freedoms. Amazing.

I got a raise and a title change at work. I feel so happy! It’s amazing what can happen when you ask.

Summer is almost over and I’m here for it. I love summer, but this one felt LONG. I’m ready for coats and big sweatshirts. Remind me of this in March when I’m over it.

We had lice. We all survived. It is way worse to imagine what it will be than to actually have it be. As is life.

Back posting more on the weekly. <3 I’ve missed you.

Small Joys and Happies

Sitting in the sun on the deck for 15 minutes in the quiet.

The sound of wind through the trees and my neighbors wind chime gently tinkling.

A small handful of frozen chocolate chips.

Having shaved legs.

Pedicures on my lunch break.

How a kitkat can be evenly split between my family.

Fae’s face covered in chocolate from her 1 stick of kitkat.

A really excellent workout.

New jorts! New jorts!

Lady’s night on the horizon.

Watching Gabriel eat blueberries.

Gabriel telling me he has to go back on his bike after his first fall and scraped up knee because, “Mom! I can’t let the bike win!”

Hearing Fae singing in the stroller on an evening walk after dinner.

What are your happies?

I Died My Hair Purple

After Fae was born I felt like sunshine (tired tired sunshine). I felt like some blonde sunkissed hair suited me. I wanted to shake things up and feel fresh and I did!

And then the elections happened and I didn’t feel so sunshiney. I didn’t feel like I wanted to look like I had just returned from a long trip to the beach. I hadn’t. So, why bother? Did I feel fresh and fun anymore? No. I did not. I do not. I felt and still feel dark and stormy.

I also have spent a lot of my life looking at other people’s fun hair, fun fashion, risk taking images and felt envious. Envious at their confidence and how they took risks. Envious at how COOL they looked! Thinking I could never do something like that. I was too nervous when I was younger and now I’m too old.

I am not too old. But I am more confident.

The purple smelled like grapes. But I didn’t want to ask about it in case it was all in my head. It was supposed to be more of a bayalage situation. Where it stuck in the blonde but it only created a shine in the light on the rest of my hair. It came out more purple EVERYWHERE than expected. With definite highlights of magenta. But I liked it! The unexpected is always an adventure!

But here is why I will most likely never color my hair a fashion color again…

No one told me about the upkeep! The color bleeding! The mess! The amount of thought I have to now put into my hair situation.

For the first month my bath tub walls, shower curtain, and bath tub were died purple from the run off AND the use of the purple shampoo I have to keep my hair purple and not a sad washed out pink that it will eventually turn. It took a lot of clorox scrubbing it get it out, and now the run off is not so bad. But there are still purple splatters everywhere.

Easily for a month I slept with a towel on my pillow because my hair would bleed onto my pillow cases at night. Now I just use dark pillowcases.

I can’t use my nice cream colored fluffy towels, and instead use one of the kid towels that are actually purple so that I don’t get purple die all over my nice stuff.

I wash my hair very very infrequently in order to prolong the life of my color. Which is extra annoying when the only shampoo I’m using is the purple shampoo (which is almost like a gak consistency?) leaves a sticky/greasy residue on my scalp. So either, that’s just the color depositing life, or the shampoo isn’t really cleaning anything (Even though I am scrubbing, because I wash my hair literally one time a week and workout 4 times a week and sweat in my sleep ALL TIMES a week). Even rinsing my head causes color bleed, so I try to limit that as well to only once a week.

My nails are almost always purple. If I scratch my head, purple comes off under my nails. My mouse at my desk is stained purple. my keyboard keys have a purple tinge.

So, the upkeep sucks. But I love the look. I don’t want to just say “fuck it” and use normal shampoo and go back to my usual hair routine because then I will not get the most out of my purple hair experience. And if I’m only going to do this once, might as well do it right. Dark and stormy till the end.

Fae Turns 2 – The Video!

My happy, independent, little climber. I always forget how they are still such a BABY at 1 years old until I see the before and afters. We had this song picked out for months and months and months. What a fun year it has been!

Fae is 2!

At just after 3am this morning Fae turned 2! I’m having a hard time fully grasping that it has been two whole years since I gave birth to her. What have we done in that time? We have done so much in that time. And yet, it doesn’t feel enough.

Where would I be without her? I don’t know. I would have less joy, less sunshine, less purpose.

Fae is literally the happiest baby I have ever known. I am every day grateful she exists. And even as we move toward more independent thinking (read: tantrums) and difficult moments, I keep thinking how grateful I am that I had her second. Because if I had had her first, I wouldn’t know what the big deal was. She is a gift and I am fully aware of it.

(Lol… sorry Fae.)

Fae is always up for anything. She is my ride or die. She will go anywhere if she is clamped to me in the Lillebaby. She has only just recently been asking to get down when we go on walks so that she can hold her brother’s hand.

Fae is tough. She will tell you what she wants and doesn’t want. She will steal Gabriel’s food and RUN away with it. She can wrestle with the best of us and often comes out on top.

But, she does not like going outside with barefeet. She does not like having her hands dirty for prolonged amounts of time and will ask us to clean them. (Even though she refuses to use spoons even though she knows how and likes to SCOOP out her yogurt.) She doesn’t like  bugs or spiders and will go “ew! yuck!” and make grossed-out-faces when she sees one or THINKS she sees one. If she does get something on the bottom of her foot she cries and limps as though she has been stabbed.

Her favorite person on the planet is her brother, who she calls “mano.” I am probably second.

She climbs everything. She is the most physically capable 1 year old, 1.5 year old, and 2 year old I have ever SEEN. She has no fear, though she does ask for help when she needs it. And her abilities to scramper up ladders at the park, kitchen tables, rock walls, etc. amazes me.

Fae’s favorite words are…

  • Hermano (mano)
  • Mama
  • Daddy
  • No, mine
  • Nnnnnno!
  • mas
  • Arana
  • Cookie
  • Baba

She is very literally the light of my life. I can’t wait to see who she becomes in the next year!

Happy Birthday my crazy lady. I am so honored to be your mama.

What’s Happening?

I dropped off the blog with no announcement. My book club schedule  gone awry. Podcast… what podcast? What is even happening anymore?

I don’t know.

There are a good number of things I want to talk to you about. That I want to write about.

Things like… how I died my hair purple.

… how I LOVE IT.

… how I will never ever do it again.

Things like… what happened with my kitchen!

… how all of the construction finally ended.

… how now we have a space that feels more like me, like us, like ours.

… how the first summer in our home feels.

Things like… Fae is almost 2. She turns two on Thursday.

… how did that happen?

… how that is making me feel unaccomplished and frustrated.

So many things. So many marriage things I want to talk about on the podcast – which WILL return. With willpower. And time.

But I’m also enjoying feeling not rushed to the computer. Feeling like I don’t have 3 jobs. Feeling like I don’t even have time to think about what I think about, let alone write it down. There is no leisurely tea drinking, gazing out the window time over here. I have been so busy and feeling like I’m barely holding it all together. Barely squeaking past the deadlines, barely grabbing the kids on time from school. Barely making it to my bed before I fall asleep.

Kamel gets annoyed that I need to sleep so early. 9pm? Delicious. But I explain to him how I go hard all day, from the minute a child forces my eyes open, I am go go go. On the weekends we are up! and going! to the zoo! and to the store! and to the park! and snacks! and lunch! and naps! and yardwork! and laundry! and and and. During the week it is everyone to school, everyone to work, shoveling salad into my mouth in front of the computer, finding 45 minutes to sweat until I maybe feel like I’m going to barf. Kids. Dinner. Bath. Chasing babies in the backyard, beach towels, sprinklers, wiping down counters, folding more laundry, turn fans on, cracking open bedroom doors. Realizing I haven’t showered since….?

And being in it is good.

I want to be here too.

I’m finding my way back.

(TWO on THURSDAY. HOW.)

April: Surfacing, Margaret Atwood

I know. It is May 16th. And here we are. I am so late! It was bound to happen at least once. I apologize! Now my book club is slightly out of wack. Sigh. And I even had the book read. I just didn’t get to the posting of the post. Or the writing of it. You get me.

Surfacing. I have a lot of thoughts. This book made me feel so smart. SO SMART. And I really want to hear everything you think about it.

First – If this is your very first Atwood, I’m sorry. This is a weird one to start with. So I hope it is not your first. If it is, go read Cat’s Eye. Or Alias Grace. (or Handmaids Tale) You’ll be like “ohhhh, I get it now.” Some of her books are practically beach reads, and some of her books need a whole class discussion. This one falls into category 2. Class is in session.

This book started off with me not knowing what the hell is going on. We’re in a small French-Canadian town. It is very scary-movie-esque. Only one real road in. Everyone is suspicious of strangers. What murder secrets could they be possibly hiding? And then we find out that the main character (Is her name Sarah? Am I making that up? It is almost never mentioned. I tried to find it and am having a super hard time. Maybe it is never said at all… that would be interesting.) is trying to find her dad who has been missing for quote awhile.

This is immediately a psychological thriller and has the vibe of a modern day noir. Everything is suspect, everything is hinting at some ominous threat. Should they go out to the island? I was screaming in my head “no, just leave, don’t do it.” Every mundane task (cooking fish, washing dishes, killing time with books and cards) is weighted so heavily it’s as if the boogy man is about to jump out of a closet.

And as the main character’s past is revealed there is a darkness there. A complication beyond a missing father, a dead mother, an absent brother. Drownings. Slipping. Distrust. And on and on. I kept thinking about how the book is also a modern day The Awakening. I immediately wanted to write a these about those two books and the conversation they are having about women, sexual threats, how pregnancy is a sexual threat, how having a child is a sexual threat.

The main character’s grip on reality sort of devolves as the book continues. Near the end I pretty much stop being clear as to what exactly is happening anymore. What is real? What is even real? And that’s the struggle with first person narrators. When they stop being reliable, the story goes bonkers. It was really well done. It succeeded in its task. But the ending was so unsatisfying for me. I wanted the main character to shed her skin and move on into the world being free. But I feel like the island trapped her in the end. It called her back and she gave into it. But! I always want everything wrapped up in a nice bow at the end of every book I read (even if the books I write don’t end that way). It doesn’t necessarily make the stories better. It’s just my impulse.

What did everyone think of this one?

This month is allegedly The Underground Railroad! But it is going to take me way more than 2 weeks to finish it. So I’ll aim for mid-June! Join me?

Sad Uterus

I opened the blog today to see that I haven’t blogged in basically an entire month. What happened? A lot of things. A lot. You are about to get updates a-plenty. The first one being about my insides. Are you ready?

I started my period after having Fae about 6 months  after she was born. I was still breast feeding but my period came back about this time with Gabe and maybe that’s just my body’s natural way. When Fae was about 9 months old-ish, I bled through a freshly placed tampon, and my underwear, and my yoga pants while I was standing in my kitchen making dinner. It was like a woosh of fluid and it was shocking! I had never bled through a tampon ever before in my life. (Aside from minor spotting that was like CHANGE ME.)

The next month it happened again. Except I was about to leave the house and I recognized the woooooosh and narrowly saved the pants I was wearing. I was quickly fucking up a lot of my underwear. I started wearing pads and tampons. Then, because tampons seemed totally pointless I started just wearing pads.

The summer Fae turned 1, I remember sitting at a friend’s BBQ, in a pad, and white pants. Always white pants. And feeling woosh after woosh after woosh. I had only brought the pad I was wearing. Who needs to change their legit-sized pad during a 3 hour BBQ? Me. I will spare you the description of how soaked that pad was.

I thought: Welcome to having two kids. [insert shruggy emoji here]

Other weird things: When I ovulated I bled. Not like just when I wiped, but like, oh surprise! your underwear is now pink. Sometimes when I would work out (especially running or cardio heavy) I would bleed. There were months where I would actively spot from ovulation until my period. You can imagine the “Is it time? Am I starting? Should I pack pads? Am I not starting? Should I wear a pad to bed?” anxiety that induced.

This last Christmas I was so fed up, I got Thinx underwear. Because at least then I didn’t have to worry about the spotting, and I wouldn’t have to live in HORRIBLE pads!!

In February Kamel and I went to Miami to visit his family. I got my period a week early. It immediately sent me into a panic. I needed to go to Walgreens NOW. No more bathing suits for me! Oh we’re going kayaking with manatees? I’ll wear my Thinx, a pad, jean shorts, and a tank top, thanks. Oh it is 85 degrees? And the water is delicious? No, I’ll just stay in the kayak and roast. Can’t get wet. No tampon can contain me! Joy.

Later that month I went to see my OB for my annual. I mentioned how I’m having super flows and that I have bought thinx. Both the NP and my doc were very… “Tell me more…” when I mentioned that no tampon could contain me. I made my own excuses, “but that’s just second kid, right?”

No.

My doctor said that we needed to get a handle on this situation otherwise I was going to find myself anemic. She said it wasn’t normal, and it did not have to be this way.

I cried.

My period was taking over my life! I sometimes bled for 15 days! And when it was actually my period Kamel had started calling it the shining. It was such huge RELIEF to know that I didn’t have to deal with this for the next 20 years. Hopefully.

In March, I had two ultrasounds. One on my tummy and one trans-vaginally. They found a fibroid growing in the lining of my uterus. The plan was to have surgery and scrape it out. Did you wince? I just winced.

A week after my birthday, I had surgery. I was wheeled into an operating room, they put me under, and they scraped out the entire anterior side of my uterus. Like a cantaloupe, I would imagine. My doctor couldn’t see the fibroid in question, even with the scope and all of that. So she covered a larger area than originally discussed just to make sure she got it. It came back in pathology that she did in fact get it!

And I want to be clear I was scared. Really scared. I don’t do well with medical things, I feel very vulnerable about my vagina. And I was really concerned I wouldn’t be able to even walk into the hospital without a full panic attack and passing out. I cried a lot about it. Especially in the shower, especially at night. I worked through it in my own head, and when I got to the day, I was ok. I cried when I was getting on my gurney. I cried when they were putting the oxygen mask on me in the operating room. Silent tears, not like sobbing tears. But I did it. And I am really proud of how I handled it all. I impressed myself. I am stronger than I think.

I have not had a real post-op period yet. But I am really hopeful that things go back to being tampon-friendly.

All this to say – if you think your fucked up periods are just age or life or whatever. Maybe they aren’t. Maybe it doesn’t have to be like that anymore. Talk to your doctor.

The Year I Was 31

Me, on the day I turned 31. Taking Fae to the doctor for her hand foot and mouth. Remember that?

This year I started flossing more than I have ever flossed ever in my life. I don’t know why it is such a hated task, but it is a hated task and I have dragged my feet for 31 years…. WELL NO LONGER.

What else happened to me this year? This year was the first year since 2013 that I was not pregnant nor was I nursing. I just did the math on that and yes, that is true. Pregnant at 27, nursing at 28, pregnant at 29, nursing at 30. 31 = not pregnant, not nursing!

The day after I turned 31, we took our first and only full family trip on a plane! To Miami!

We rented a van, stayed in a hotel on the beach, swam in the ocean, hung out with family, the babies were loved on, and I held a baby alligator!

I do try to be mindful of challenging activities and adventures that scare me. Even if I have less time to do stuff like that, I want to always try. Alligator-Check!

The summer involved lots of celebrations for Claire’s upcoming wedding, lots of get togethers with babies, Fae’s baptism and first birthday! For me that meant party planning, outfit finding, and lots of very long email chains with many many details.

It was a spring and summer of house hunting which was one of the most challenging experiences of my adulthood. It was stressful and emotional and tested all of my “sharing my life with another person” limits. It was 6 months of compromise and arguments and hope and disappointments and meetings and viewings and debate. I spent the majority of the time super annoyed by Kamel, super grateful for our agent Alicia, and completely oxygen deprived from holding my breath for so long. I think Kamel spent the majority of that time completely in love with me, obviously.

And then we bought a house.

We closed at the very end of August and that exact weekend was Claire’s bachelorette party! That I was in charge of planning alongside Maris! So, still covered in paint I hauled my butt downtown to get the party started.

Some of my most fulfilling moments this year have been surrounded by women. Some of the most at peace moments. The times where I feel the most solid. I am so lucky.

It’s really difficult for me to make these birthday posts about MY year and MY growth and not everyone I know’s year, my children’s year, my marriage’s year. It’s hard to remember that along with all of these events there I was … growing and being and experiencing and reacting and feeling.

I am not where I want to be as a human person yet. But I am much closer than I ever have been. I really love who I am, but I want more for me. More compassion, more kindness, more patience, less neediness, more balance. More calm. I’m working on it. Always.

This year I got a legit home office.

With the first desktop I have EVER OWNED AS MINE. The last desktop I had was our family computer when I was in high school! Also my office doesn’t look like that anymore. It has a ton of crap in it. Some to cut down on the echo + sound panels all over the walls, and other crap just because.

Then Claire got married!!!

It was the danciest wedding ever! So fun!

Then Kamel had surgery and that was really hard and upsetting.

It was so incredibly difficult and scary seeing him so vulnerable, and it wasn’t even THAT bad. It was a long recovery, but it wasn’t like he got into an accident or something. So maybe that was just the warm up to the other “in sickness and in health” shit that will inevitably befall us.

And then Margaret and Jeff got married and I went to that without Kamel because his surgery healing was way more intense than we had been lead to believe.

And it was so beautiful and so fun and such amazing food. I’m so proud of both of them.

And then like a week later Kamel, my dad, and I went to Kamel’s cousin Carlos’s wedding outside Mexico City!

It was the year of weddings that were not my own and it was super beautiful.

Trump was elected president and there will forever be a before and after. For me it would be downplaying it beyond reason to say it was a “wake up call.” I actually find that to be incredibly condescending. It created a space for me where I will never stop being angry. The world is a hostile place and something fell off the shelf inside me, to quote Zora Neale Hurston. There is a darkness inside me. Sometimes it fuels me and sometimes it causes me great despair. I am disappointed by the world and its suffering. I am disappointed by the smallness of humankind. By the pettiness. And I have been forsaken by people who hold up mothers as the ideal but so easily throw away women. We are so easily thrown away. I will not be someone’s garbage and I will not allow anyone else to be either.

November also brought the baptism of my goddaughter, Ellen!

Then we spent Thanksgiving in Canada with Maris.

I am so grateful to have a rich and diverse and loving family. People who willingly encourage our chaotic mini families to collide. We are really lucky.

After really putting a hold on travel because we were saving for a house, this last year we splurged on trips. After the election I immediately started planning to march in DC, a city I had never been until January. I am very lucky to have landed Sarah’s couch and to have so many fantastic friends in the DC area who held my hand through the march and squeezed me when tears fell down my face at seeing the immense crowds of people just like me, who had been hurting for months just like me, who were scared just like me.

In February, Kamel and I took a solo trip to Miami to visit our new niece LOLA! We stayed with my SILs, Regina and Lara, and it was so NICE to be there without the kids. I actually really love traveling with the kids, but it is also cumbersome and a lot of work. It was really important to us to be flexible while visiting the newest addition to the family. I didn’t want it to be about our kids (it is ALWAYS about our kids) and I wanted it to be about spending time with Kamel’s sisters and parents and baby Lolita!

I also got to see MANATEES for the first time! They surrounded us while we were in a kayak paddling around and it was AMAZING!!

And! Regina gifted me three more tattoos while I was there. Here are two of the new ones (and two of the usual ones).

In March we started a very unplanned renovation project when our dishwasher leaked all through our floors and into our crawl space. And is still an ongoing journey even today! Weee! (But you know what? It has helped make this home feel more OURS and that has been a major boon.)

March was also all about Gabe’s birthday!

And, of course, Vegas!

And now here we are. That was a year in the life of me. Not to mention: Christmas, the millions and millions of weekend activities and hours spent entertaining the kids, the books I have finally started reading again in the last 4 months, and billions of sentences I have edited, approved, or rewritten for my job in educational publishing. This is also the year I turned my hair blonder! But I am now on the precipice of more hair changes. I am the most fulfilled I have ever been with the fewest amount of down time hours. I continue to feel overwhelmingly grateful.

32. Boom.