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!
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)
- No, mine
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.
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.)
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?
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
A few weeks ago I went to Vegas with my best friends. A bunch of married ladies, three of us mothers. People who are busy, who are tired, who spend weekends in yoga pants under piles of laundry or just life. Piles of life.
And for a long weekend I ran away and remembered who I am without all of the other stuff. Without having to consider nap time or early morning wakeups. Without having to consider another person’s hunger or comfort. I wore big shoes and short dresses.
I stayed out by the pool all afternoon. I ate rich, amazing, adventurous foods and started dinner past my children’s bedtimes. I spent too much time on my hair and makeup. I crawled over VIP sections to sit on the back of a couch with two of my best friends spitting distance from Calvin Harris in the DJ Booth like we were 23 and had nowhere to be.
And it was just so fun and so freeing. And I’ve been trying to decide what I wanted to say about this trip and I think I’ve figured out two things.
First, I feel that there is an electricity in the air sometimes, an aura if you will, that tut tuts at women, mothers, wives, who go off on extravagant get-aways without their partners/children/blahblah. There is an “aww womp womp” thing that exists towards the left behind party. There is a “well, where do they get to go then?” like I must have to pay this freedom back in some way… right? Nothing is free.
But… that’s stupid. Partners who keep score are not good partners. Partners who aren’t supportive of escapes into the night are not good partners.
The second thing I’ve been thinking about is: Investment. I’m old(er) and tired(er) and the time I have is precious. It is important to choose, actively choose, how I want to spend that time. We hadn’t all gone somewhere together since 2009. Since before any of us got married. It’s important to invest in the stories of our friendships. It’s important to invest in the stories that we will retell for years to come.
It’s important to invest in who we are when no one is looking, in the late night dancing, and the dress up and the pool time, and the naps in the middle of the day like who are we? People without responsibilities?
It’s important to be that hot girl for a second, because the work of life is always there. It’s always there yelling at you and pulling you back into deadlines and chores and wiping snotty noses and alarm clocks and workouts. It’s important to plug your ears every once in a while, buy a 50 dollar dress that is made from some kind of stretchy terry cloth, and run out into the night.
Hello! This month has been so long. It always is because it is literally long with 31 days, but on top of that it’s the push up to spring that everyone needs and wants and needs and wants. So here we are! A month of reading! I bet you read more than 1 book this month, but I didn’t! So let’s get to it.
I really enjoyed America’s First Daughter. I was going to initially say that it was a gentle read. Even in its most tense moments, the most gasp-worthy, it was pleasant. And that is true! But then I hard-sobbed through the last three chapters. Is this the best book I’ve ever read? No. But is it a lovely foray into historical fiction? Yes!
I did find it particularly useful, during this time of political unrest paired with Hamilton FERVOR to read an intimate portrayal of the Jeffersons. The book is based on letters, so it feels very accurate as far as life events go. I had this naive epiphany moment about half way though where I realized the US has always been a mess, except for a handful of brief moments when we could all come together over a common goal. One of those moments was the Revolutionary War (And not everyone loved the direction we were taking). But not even 20 years after the war we were back to arguing and dueling and tearing down politicians over affairs and character smear campaigns. And though what’s happening right this second is pretty bad, it made me feel like this country is actually very resilient for all its fragility.
And though Hamilton and Jefferson didn’t agree or get along, it was nice to read something from the other side of the Hamilton love fest. It’s important to keep in mind that these men were all flawed people with big ideas. And the work that the women did, always there, always pushing, always behind the scenes, was immense. Without them things would be very very different.
Jefferson’s daughter, Martha, was a FORCE. And I am incredibly impressed with how much she accomplished in the face of so much death and so many BABIES. Holy god. She didn’t stop giving birth for like more than 20 years. Insane. And she still held down the fort during Jefferson’s presidency, she still managed the political aspirations of her husband, she still educated all of her kids.
I also thought the way the book handled slavery was really interesting. I was pretty uncomfortable with how I was reading it for the first half of the book. It seemed a little apologetic. But, because it was first person and because slavery becomes a main focus in the politics and the moral struggle of the characters, I felt like it was handled ok? I think it is probably controversial how they portray Sally Hemings and her devotion to Jefferson. I feel like even talking about any of this comes off so racist. This paragraph that I am writing, even. This topic is so fucked up and I truly don’t know how to read it or how to write it in historical fiction. So, you know, if anyone else has thoughts on this definitely let me know. I was conflicted and cringe-y most of the time.
I feel like most people are going to really like this book. But how did everyone else, especially in this political fraught time, read it? How did you feel about it? What stuck out?
For April we are reading Atwood!! Check out the full BIRL Book Club book list here.
On Sunday I fell down the stairs while holding Fae for the second time. Two times I have slipped and fallen without any warning only to see my baby slide down my body and go tumbling down the stairs herself. It is absolutely horrific. It’s one of those things you think about happening in an “oh my god wouldn’t that be AWFUL?” way. And then it does. And here we are.
This is also probably the 5th time I’ve fallen down these stairs. And not because I’m being ridiculous. Not because I’m on my phone or running or doing anything other than WALKING down the STAIRS. It’s also not a feeling of, “oh no. I am going to fall. Oh look I am now falling. Oh shit.” No, it doesn’t happen that way. It’s like this: I am walking down the stairs thinking of where I’m going and the 5 billion things I have to do when I get there. SDHGKAJFSKLAJSKDGJ I’M FALLING OW SKDGJSKLJDTGSKL.
So when you think, “Oh, I’ll make sure to hold the baby if I were ever to fall.” No. That is not true. If I had the ability to think, “I am falling must hold baby,” I would do it! But I don’t. Because all that happens is I slip without feeling myself slip and then my body flails. I watch my daughter slide down my body or fall to the stairs and tumble down like a rag doll while I am also tumbling down and desperately trying to get my body to do what I want it to do which is save my daughter, but we’re both falling and I am screaming and it is HORRIBLE.
Thankfully aside from bruising myself, no one has ever had any injuries. But I am not want to risk the completely traumatic event happening again and again and again. (Granted I feel like it’s already happened like 5 times too many.) So, what do I do? They are carpeted stairs and I fall whether I am in socks or bare feet. Has anyone had this issue? At this point we will do anything, but I would prefer it not be super ugly or crap quality/annoyingly temporary. Help!
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: 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.