Look In The Attic

A few weeks ago I had the worst week. It was a bad week. No one died, but it was pretty shitty anyway. As all terrible weeks do, this one started with hope.

A house. A weird shaped, tall house. Next to a park, in an affordable area. It was cute. Had a den off the kitchen and three bedrooms upstairs. It had no backyard, but a patio and a deck. I imagined summers of sidewalk chalk and potted plants and Chardonnay. I knew we could and would get this house. We had room in the budget to blow everyone else out of the water, much like all the people who have just recently purchased homes have done to us. This was it, we were almost. Nearly 90 days from the beginning of this journey I saw the finish line.

I have found that one of the biggest differences between being a kid and being an adult is denial. When you’re a kid you don’t know all the crap stuff that could happen to you and it makes you fearless. The fearlessness is good, it creates risk takers which in turn creates opportunities. Except for the kids who film themselves jumping off roofs. I can’t help those people. But as an adult! As an adult, we know too much. We’ve peeked under too many rocks, we’ve heard too many stories, we’ve seen things. We have stuff to lose now. We feel the weight of our mortality.

But if adults all acted on that knowledge, the world would stop. It’s too scary, too risky, nothing is guaranteed! The unknowns are the worst, because they offer infinite possibilities. We all know the bad things that could befall us: We could get cancer, we cold die and leave our children without a parent, we could suffer a financial downfall, lose our jobs, drown in debt, things could not work out as planned. It’s rare that they do, but we make the plans anyway.

The only way to survive as adults is to live with a certain amount of chronic denial. We know the bad stuff is there, but we only take a glimpse, and then we shove it back up in the attic. We slide it back under the rock. We pretend we didn’t see it at all. We say those things happen to OTHER people, not to us. We tell ourselves they are just exaggerations and we move forward.

The only thing standing between us and that house was paying $250 and having a pre-inspection. As long as nothing was wonky with the title (has happened to us) and there weren’t any risky or very expensive fixes (has also happened to us) we would be good to go. The construction was relatively new – 1992 I think? – so I wasn’t overly worried. The appointment we had was at a weird time, so I went alone and Kamel went to pick up kids and battle rush hour traffic.

Everything was going well. A few windows that needed to be replaced, a screen door (no matter, I wanted to put in french doors anyhow!), a hot water tank that needed to be replaced, brand new hickory floors, solid roof, solid siding, check check check check.

The only thing left was to check the attic, where all the bad and scary things live. Except not really, you just want to make sure there is enough insulation and there isn’t any leaks or mold or what have you. We have yet to run into any of these issues. Those things happen to other people.

Everything was humming along until the inspector said: Bats.

Ha. Ha. I said. Jokes, I said.

No, really, he said. Bats. Four to six in that corner, another half dozen in the other corner. A colony.

So as I choked down tears and kept it together, I knew immediately: Bye house. Because you don’t inherit pests. Especially pests that are left to their own devices for over a month while you wait for the house to close. But, I worked the problem anyway. So, let me tell you what I know about bats.

A small colony is 10-20 bats. They expand like koi and their colonies will grow depending on the size of the space.

They are protected and cannot be killed or trapped.

That means they need to be shooed away and then the spaces where they can get in need to be sealed.

The spaces don’t need to be any bigger than the size of a quarter.

It can be a process, as bats really like their homes.

Removing them could cost up to $1,000, not counting the insullation that will need to be replaced at $2/foot and the repair work on the roof and sides of the house to prevent them from getting in. If you accidentally trap a bat in your attic they will burrow into your walls trying to escape. They are very smart and crafty.

I also learned that there is no way I will buy a house that has tenants in the attic.

This may seem small, because this is not my house, and in so many ways thank god for that. But I really wanted it to be my house. I really wanted it to be done and we are not done. That part was an, “Are you KIDDING me?” moment. That was on Tuesday.

On Wednesday morning Kamel texted me that he was feeling like he might be laid off.

“But don’t worry, Lauren. We’re going to be alright.”

Let me tell you right now, that is not a text you send without some follow up. That is not a text you send and then wander into a meeting. That is not a text you send without some CONTEXT.

So I sat for 40 minutes checking my phone and reacting to spikes in my anxiety by thinking of other things, but knowing that bad things happen, that bats can be in the goddamn attic, that people lose their jobs, that the homes you spend years saving for and millions of hours looking for get put on hold sometimes because life happens. To other people, but not to me. Surely, NOT to me. With two kids, in this apartment with no air, this place has NO AIR, and a kitchen that is no longer big enough to even store all the food our kids EAT every week. Not to us.

But then when Kamel called me after 40 minutes and he said that yes, he had been laid off, I could not stop the tears. Because the roof had been ripped off and we were standing in that dark attic, bats and all.

What are we going to do?

I still don’t really know.

In that moment my brain fast forwarded to all the things we needed to figure out. First, email the real estate agents and put a hold on our search. Second… second?

Do we start talking about moving somewhere cheaper? Do we start strategizing pulling the kids out of daycare? What can we afford on just my income plus unemployment? How fast can Kamel turn this around?

Kamel applied for almost 40 jobs in that first week. And we were lucky because he had warning, they gave him a headsup to start looking even before his pay ran out. For that I am so grateful.

In the mean time, many of the things I know are there but choose to ignore are knocking on my door. “Hello? Lauren? We need to talk.”

I’m still telling them that no one is home. I need time to figure it out. When do we have to start moving on these changes? How much time do I have until the bats aren’t just in a house we didn’t buy, but are right here with me?

9 Months Postpartum

Tomorrow I will have been not-pregnant with Fae as long as I was pregnant with Fae. It’s a milestone, something to think about, her birth like center of a see-saw and at this moment everything is balanced. But my body is not a mirror of itself from 18 months ago. I don’t think it ever is. (Looking at my 9 months pp post after Gabe is a shock. I look SO GOOD omg! And young! And ugh….)

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3 days before giving birth to Fae. My last profile shot pregnant.

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1 week postpartum.

Pregnancy is weird. What our bodies go through and recover from is strange. How can we be ballooned out like that and then snap back like a rubber band? Well, it’s not exactly as quick as a rubber band.

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2 weeks postpartum.

This time the whole recovery process feels slow. It was slow right out of the gate. Everything was sore longer, my hips and groin felt fatigued for months. Walking was slow. Getting back into a workout routine was slow. Everything slow.

My tummy skin is still weird and soft. Weird meaning different and inexpiable. When I am on my back it is soft like jello. I can jiggle it around. When I sit it folds in on itself and I have a few tire rolls. In the evenings I can still look 3 months pregnant, a little pooch. Some clothes fit, some clothes don’t. Sometimes I can buy in my old size and sometimes nothing fits right at all. I am less than 5 lbs above my pre-pregnancy weight but that has never made any difference when it comes to postpartum recovery. It’s not the number, it’s the shape.

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9 months postpartum.

My boobs are soft and hang low. They are still recovering from 6 months of breastfeeding. My skin all over has lost its firmness. I think I remember that that is hormonal. I have been working out hard for the last month. Since I stopped breastfeeding I amped up the workouts, amped up the strengthening, and have been paying closer attention to what I eat.

For the last month Kamel and I cut out alcohol and desserts. Except when the world calls for it. Which is a lot less than my 1 beer a day and sometimes a pack of M&Ms that I found in the cupboard. The annoying thing is that it didn’t make much of a difference. Well, not on the scale anyway. I think working out helps my elasticity. It helps my feel sane, it helps me feel strong and energized. It puts parts of me back where they belong.

For months after giving birth I had incontinence issues. Jumping made me pee. Running made me pee. It was a horrible feeling and very demoralizing when you go to the park to jump rope on your lunch and leave after 30 seconds because you’ve peed. Thankfully, at 9 months out that has greatly reduced. I can do jumping jacks and high knees and all the normal working out stuff with mostly not feeling like I’m going to pee. Sometimes I still do a little. We aren’t superheroes.

I’m not on any birth control. I just want my body to be. I don’t want to put anything in it or take any pills or mess with anything. This is me, whatever works for you – you do you. But it means that we are more at risk for pregnancy. What was that I had said about vasectomy? Well that didn’t happen. Won’t happen. But that’s not my story to tell. The other day I was a little late, and I thought… hmm… what if I’m pregnant? I struggle with having a third all of the time. I love my kids, I want a million of them. There are just so many factors and a lot more cons than pros. Minus the part where the pro is another AMAZING HUMAN. Ugh. Well, anyway… there was a moment where the possibility of being pregnant was kind of a little bit more possible than usual, and I had this moment of pure, clear as day, sickening panic. I do not want to be pregnant again. I do not I do not I do not. (Do I? No. Right? Right.)

In 9 months I have lost 45 lbs.

My stretch marks have faded to white, though I still finger the scars from time to time.

My breasts have expanded to 2 sizes bigger and then shrunk back down to sad little deflated balloons.

My rings all fit comfortably again.

My hair is growing back and the regrowth is about 2 inches long. Still so fucking annoying.

I am still about 1 size above my usual pants size, though I squeeze myself uncomfortably into old pants and muffin top the shit out of them.

My vagina is good. My back is getting there. My strength is almost back.

Nine months in, nine months out. What we live through, what we are able to thrive through is phenomenal.

Nobody Else But You

Last week (and like three posts down because oh the state of this blog and the state of my no time at all for anything) I had a podcast about house hunting. Buying home right now in Seattle is a bear. And that is the kindest way I can put it.

It is so much work, it is so much time, it is so much stress. And with our already very full plates, it adds stress to a pretty thick stress-sandwich. In the podcast I talked about how Kamel and I have a different approaches to the process, how we have different take aways from the experience. Sometimes it has caused tension. His interpretation is different than mine. He is this thing called “a different person” than I am. And I have to take his needs, wants, desires, expectations into “consideration” because we are “married” and “sharing a life together.” How inconvenient.

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Last weekend we were on one of our many many (many many) house view expeditions. We have spent so much gas driving from neighborhood to neighborhood not liking homes, let me tell you. My approach to house hunting is serious. This is serious business. It is strategy and trying to be the first to jump on opportunities. It is trying to look into the magic 8 ball that lives in my head and see how our family’s lifestyle will grow and change and adapt to whatever house set up we buy. It’s a lot of mental energy for me trying not to fuck this up. And last weekend Kamel and I were driving to a house and we were chatting about our expectations and Kamel said, “I’m so happy I get to do this with you. I wouldn’t want to do this with anybody else.”

Aw, thanks Kamel. Same! (I said.)

But, like, what else do you say to that? It was true, but it was also just a response.

And overall, it was a disappointing day. I was hoping to leave that day with the rush of wanting to put an offer on a house, but instead we went home going back and forth on, “Did we like it? No? We’re sure? We’re sure. Ugh.” But you know what? I am so grateful for Kamel’s positivity. I am so grateful for his ability to make fun of his complete inability to remember how to pronounce different neighborhoods around Seattle, his ability to poke fun at his own excitement, his ability to poke fun at my ever present terror bubbling just at the surface of my being. He makes me a better person and he takes care of me without even trying, he does it by just being him.

Marriage is dumb in so many ways. The constant compromising and the co-everything and the sharing (my god the sharing). But I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else but him. And thank god I am sharing this experience with Kamel. I probably would rent forever if I didn’t have my buddy.

2015 is Done.

I don’t do resolutions but I do like to look ahead and make some goals for myself. What can I accomplish next year? What did I do in the year that trails behind me? What are we here for? What are we doing? What have we done? Etc etc.

At the end of 2014 I made some goals.

I wanted to be more involved in charity work.

I wanted to make a dent and/or finish a book I had started.

And I wanted to have my baby.

The entire year I felt a nagging guilt over not being more involved in charity work. But I did do more/give more than I had in previous years. Time, tiny human responsibilities, and finances limited my ability. This is just something I really want to do and will always be a priority for my life. It’s just the unfortunate truth that sometimes other things come before my ability to give to others. Ugh, that just sounds so gross saying out loud.

I did for sure make a dent in a book I was writing. I did not finish it, though I had no excuse not to. I have, though, decided to reorganize it. (Did you hear that Margaret! Stop reading the draft you have! I have no goals for it!) I foresee this being an evolving process. One that doesn’t get much traction until after Fae turns 1. That’s just how having tiny humans works. The first year is a shit show, the rest of life struggles to keep up.

Oh, but I did have that baby. So, gold stars for me!

2016… it has a nice ring to it. When I think about the year in my mind I get little sparks of excitement. THE FUTURE IS HERE. What’s going to happen? What are we going to do? What surprises will pounce on us? Will they be good surprises? Or will they sit on our faces until we cry for mercy? Who knows! The future is a mystery…

What do I want to accomplish? What do you want to accomplish? What are you going to conquer in 2016? Hearing the aspirations of others is inspiring, so please do share in comments.

My three goals:

1.) Buy a freaking house.

2.) Create a successful (meaning good, by my standards) podcast.

3.) Be consistent with Weekend-ing again.

Other minor goals that I’ll say are “honorable mentions” are…

1.) Get into a career situation that is more permanent than where I’m at currently.

2.) Get our photo books printed!! For fucksake!

3.) Get back into shape.

I really feel like this year is the year of Taking Care of Business. It’s going to be one of those rip-roaring years where we all look back this time next year and think, “holy shit… all of that in just one year?” Yup. All of it in just one year. We got this. It’s going to be insane.

Beauty Chat

That survey was spectacular. Over 90 people answered the questions. Let’s get to the stats!

First, the biggest write-in favorite was NARS Orgasm blush. Or blush of any kind. I forgot the blush! I am a pink pink lady. Pale and pink. It doesn’t occur to me to add more pink. Also, I wish I was in charge of naming NARS products. That must be a great office.

As far as demographics, people are all across the board from late teens to 40+ with 60% of the participants between 30 and 35. 

58% of those who answered are daily makeup users, but just the basics. 25% barely ever use makeup, or use very little.

The most important beauty product for most people is moisturizer – tinted or other. About 45 people ranked this product as the number most important product used. Second most important product for most is mascara and third is chapstick/lipgloss.

The write-in favorite brands introduced me to some brands I had not heard of and reinforced the brands I love and have used for years. Many of you suggested Laura Mercier tinted moisturizers (had never heard of this and now am for sure going to check it out), clinique products across the board, and burt’s bees for lips.

For body lotion (something that for me is a constant search because I have chronic dry skin, made worse by having babies, and my skin gets used to lotions and stops responding after a while. I am currently using Caudalie, but the smell is not my favorite) we all must be hippies because the overwhelming response was coconut oil! Which I use on my face, hair, and body. I have three body lotion things going at once most of the time because I have a lotion obsession. Jojoba oil was also mentioned (and something I also use), as well as Jergen’s, Aveeno, and Vaseline brands.

The splurge write-in was my favorite because this is the good shit. This is the stuff that we all covet and get excited to use – make excuses to use! Again, NARS products and NARS blush was a recurring write-in. Several people by fancy nail polish, and new lipsticks were another one.

But let’s discuss further. Do you have a favorite item you think more people would enjoy? What about hair products? Tell me how you makeup. Where do you buy your goods? What does “fancy nail polish” mean? I’m only like 13% adult.

The Hustle

Where did I go? What have I done? WHAT IS HAPPENING?

Last week I had so many posts bubbling in my head. SO MANY. I even wrote half of one! But my real life hustle is taking up all of my time.

First a quick update: Things around here are moving fast fast slow fast fast slow. Right now I am in the fast fast. My search for a full time, normal person job fizzled, and as the holidays approach I am toning down my job search at the moment. Thankfully because of contacts in the professional writing world I have been piling on the freelance work. Piling on so much, actually, that we are able to pay for Fae to go to daycare after Kamel is off paternity leave. I can’t really control the job market, or who gets hired if it isn’t me, and I certainly can’t control how long this process takes, but I can control my hustle. And if my hustle means working from home all day and again after the kids go to bed and during stolen hours on the weekends? Then hustle I will. Because we have some major financial goals and without me those things can’t happen.

Like buying a house. Which is most likely put on the back burner for another year, unfortunately. But we’re getting there… we’re getting there. That’s the slow part. Fast fast hustle, slow life goals. As is life I guess.

So while I’m on my computer my writing brain is 99.9% focused on writing for dollar signs. It has been leaving me with less and LESS time to write for no dollar signs, even when that writing fills me up. It’s only been a few weeks of this hustle so I’m still finding my balance.

But in general I feel so awesome! And mentally kick ass! And smart! And on it! And handling my shit like a BOSS.

Because when things don’t work out like you imagined, strut down the paths that are open to you. Make it work. Make it more than work. Hustle and thrive. Fast fast slow.

Staycation O’Clock

Last week Kamel and I dropped Gabe off at my parents’ and headed over to Snoqualmie Falls and Salish Lodge for an overnight and some pregnant spa-ing. If you would like a quintessential pacific northwest hotel experience it is 100% worth it to spend a night at Snoqualmie Falls.

Also it should be noted that their restaurant is one of the best I have ever experienced EVER. And it overlooks a massive waterfall! And they have chocolate souffle, of which I greatly indulged!

Also the beds are magnificent even for giant pregnant me. So, here is a totally unsponsored plug. Do some getawaying and some pampering and put this one on your list.

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(lol that sign)

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I love you forever and ever pacific northwest. And I will never not appreciate the lush.

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You know the walk up is serious serious serious business when I tie my sweatshirt around my waist. It took me hours to stop looking like a tomato and Kamel had to assist me by pushing me up some of the bigger hills. Lord have mercy.

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(Workout photo followed by: honey infused BUTTER.)

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“That’s not a knife… THIS is a knife.”

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(Oooo. GET IT. GET IT!)

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Cut to: breakfast the next day because 85% of this staycation was eating.

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 Kamel’s breakfast wins ALL of the games.

How have you been indulging lately? Where and when have you been able to take a tiny chunk of time out of the usual just for yourself? If you haven’t, you should! (Mid week hotel rates are cheaper! Also playing hookie for a day and staying in bed is also beneficial for health and happiness.)

The Logistics of Two

This is all hypothetical, so I’ll just talk talk talk about how I plan on things to go and then later I’ll have to tell you what actually happened. BUT! Here is where we are with the thought process of the logistics involving a second baby.

When I first got pregnant the second time I was elated. It felt like Christmas. I was so happy. But then I also had crushing guilt. Kind of like the day we took Gabe for his first shots. I knew that we were driving him to the doctor, I knew that he had no clue at all. I knew that he would be shocked and cry, I knew it was something good for him, but I felt like a traitor anyway. Sometimes I feel like a traitor. Kamel and I made a decisions that will forever impact Gabe’s life and sometimes that feels really unfair. The pregnancy in and of itself completely changed Gabe’s little world because suddenly mom was on the couch a lot. Suddenly I was not fun or capable. I spent a lot of time on the couch. And Gabe was PISSED. He was mad at me for a while about it.

But! Siblings are awesome! Ya know, sometimes. And we’re doing a lot of thinking about being mindful of making sure Gabe does not feel forgotten once the newborn arrives. Fae will be bringing Gabe a balance bike, because she is SO thoughtful. And we have done a lot of prep with him about his little sister being in mom’s tummy. He knows her name is Fae. We have her minicrib set up in our room (photos of bedroom setups coming soon) and Gabe knows that it’s Fae’s cuna (spanish for crib). We show him her things, “This is Fae’s bunny” (thanks Sarah!) “This is Fae’s hat!” We take him to doctor’s appointments so he can hear the heartbeat and he asks “Fae coming?” So at least we are drumming up anticipation.

The plan for what to do with Gabe when I’m in labor goes like this:

When I start having regular contractions I will call my parents to either 1) Meet at our apartment if it is during the day while Gabe is at daycare and Kamel/Gabe/My parents will all meet us here. 2) Go and get Gabe from daycare if it is during a bad traffic time and Kamel just needs to get his ass home. or 3) Come and hang out at the apartment while Gabe sleeps if things happen in the middle of the night.

They will keep him for our duration at the hospital and MAYBE our first night home? Depending on how I feel, what time of day we have the baby, etc. I don’t want him at the hospital too soon because I don’t want to freak him out. I want it to be a happy thing meeting his sister, not a scary “What’s wrong with mama” thing. And to be honest, wrangling a toddler plus adjusting to a new baby does overwhelm me. I don’t know how I’ll be able to give each the attention they need especially in those first weeks. But maybe that’s just it – it’s the first weeks, the first few months, and then you figure it out, the baby is less broken, the toddler is less WTF-ing all over the place, and things get better? Either way, many have gone before me and seem pretty ok with it. So I have faith.

After that it’s wing-it central. Eventually the kids will share a room, probably. Depending on how long we are in this apartment. But until she is mostly night-weaned (down to one feeding perhaps), or until she out grows the mini crib (whichever comes first) she will be in our room.

When it comes to what I expect from my labor I have some ideas, but I am also very aware that anything could happen. Every baby, every pregnancy, every labor is different. How things went previously can only be a small glimpse into MAYBE what will happen the second time around. That being said what I HOPE will happen is:

  • A fast labor based on my first being very quick.
  • Not SO fast that I can’t get an epidural (and yes, I’m planning on it this time because the experience was so fantastic and I did not feel disconnected from it at all), but if that happens I know I’ll be ok.
  • Vaginal delivery.
  • The feeling of being NOT PREGNANT right after that is such an intense and amazing relief.

What I’m aware may happen is:

  • A long labor because the world is mean and likes to remind you that you know nothing.
  • Things happening that I do not/cannot anticipate. A complication with the baby, etc.
  • The baby not turning in time (she is currently transverse, meaning across my stomach, not head down, but I’ll get more information on that on Friday at my next appointment) and needing a C-section. This I am, honestly, terrified of. And again I, honestly, would be incredibly disappointed if happened. Because my favorite part of this whole process is Labor/Delivery and this is my last I would feel like the universe was playing a mean trick on me, or making me trade a good experience for the girl I’ve always wanted. These are not rational and I know C-Sections can be just as awesome, lovely, meaningful experiences. Of course they are. But! It is something I’m very afraid of. Part of it is the UNKNOWN and part of it is being cut into.

I still have several weeks to go. And I’ll be chugging along, sorting baby clothes, gathering the last few things we need that I keep forgetting we need like nipples! and breast pads! And figuring out insurance stuff with getting a breast pump! I’m just a few weeks away from the every other week doctor appointments (Which is happening much earlier than with Gabe, but I’m cool with it). The end is near, but not so near. I wish it was nearer.

**If there are things I’ve left out, or if you would like more specifics please let me know. Photos of room set ups, how we are making space for another baby without buying any new furniture, etc. coming in the next few weeks.

The Last Year of my 20s, Being 29

This is a yearly tradition started when I was 21. Some of those posts have been lost, but if you would like to catch up, please check out 2827, 26, 25, and 24 (with photos missing, unfortunately). 
 

I look back on last year’s birthday post and see so much travel, so much activity, so much transition! This year was more about growing roots, which is actually a very big process. Who knew? I’ve never really gotten the opportunity to cultivate a community, a village, and figure out a lot of the adult life stuff heading our way. The year I was 29 was mostly about that.

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Just a few weeks after I turned 29 I started a new job writing/editing for a major US company and it’s suite of baby companies. I love that this is what I do. It’s also wildly under appreciated. So, I’m currently trying to balance all of that as I look into the future, see the end of my contract and the opportunities that await. What am I going to suss out for myself next? What new rung on the ladder am I going to climb? I want something a little bigger and a little better than what I’ve had in the past. And I’m ok saying I’ve earned that.

Come June we finally had Gabe Baptized! A totally lovely, spiritual, heartfelt event, full of family and a lot of love. I had been putting it off until we were somewhere I really wanted to settle into a community and a church attached to a school I want Gabe to attend.

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I am constantly blown away by how many people love my son. We are so incredibly lucky to not only have that village, but be able to watch these people interact with him, to love on him, to become so much more than just, “My mom’s friends” or “My aunties” or whatever. There is love there, and relationship building. These people are the people who will be at his wedding and who will say, “I was there when you were ______” and what they really mean is, “I was there always.”

In July Kamel and I celebrated our 3 year wedding anniversary and 5 years of knowing each other. Just 5 years ago I was not a mom, not married, not engaged, and still figuring so many things out. Last July I was having a staycation at the Four Seasons with my 15 month old son, and my hilarious and kind husband.

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August took us to MAINE!!!!!!! The one place I’ve wanted to go since I was in 3rd grade!!! It was our first red-eye with Gabe, it was a mad-dash through Boston with the much needed help of Dunkin’ Donuts, and it was the dreamiest few days in Kennebunkport. This trip created many, many conversations about our future Maine vacation home and retiring on the coast. Many dreams were hatched, many Maine brews consumed, many sandy toes and hermit crab friends.

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In September we long weekended in Vancouver BC for Kamel’s 32nd birthday. AND we finally, finally, finally legally changed our names to Dupuis-Perez.

In October I renewed my contract with my current company, actually expecting to be hired on full time (as the position was contract-to-hire) and then got pregnant with our second child.

I felt like complete shit for most of the fall and into the winter months, making Christmas an especially difficult time with lots of family in town and hubub to attend to and me just wanting to curl up into a ball and fast forward time to a place where I no longer felt like I had a chronic hangover.

But! In December I also managed to get a subtle ombre color to my hair (risks! hair risks!), we put up our very first family Christmas tree, and even went to our very first Seahawks game!

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December and the weeks between Christmas and New Years ended up being a lot. Too much, really. Too much for Gabe, too much for pregnant me, toooooo much. We entered into our first really terrible toddler phase in January.

January was probably the hardest month for us, for me, for Gabe, for Kamel. It was… long and filled with ongoing real life sickness, lots of terrible colds and rivers of snot, lots of nausea, me puking at work, and a lot of pissed off toddler tantrums. To the point where I even took Gabe to the doctor. “He’s broken. Fix it.” But I was sent home with a sympathetic look and a, “Yeah… he’s developmentally appropriate.” UGH! But, as phases do, this one ended. And we have settled into a new normal of Gabe being a fantastic ball of joy and also being incredibly difficult. Such is life.

January also had me getting serious on a book I had just been toying with writing since the fall. Reading took a back seat and writing became my full time activity outside of work and making life happen.

February we found out our second child will be a little girl. And I came to the 99% sure conclusion that we’re done after 2. Oh god how much I hate being pregnant, but how much I love having children. Life is full of mean little tricks.

February was also the longest month of the year even though it is the shortest. Why does that always happen? Expectation of a zooming good time always leads to a slooww crawl towards… what? The longest month of the year?

March! we were all geared up for our 1 family trip this year and then Gabe exploded vomit all over our house. We had our couch cleaned and I wallowed in the whip-lash of last minute travel cancellations. And time marched on.

And now April.

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The day before my birthday I was flying back from Minnesota and a writing conference (while also visiting my friend Margaret). I was traveling alone, had spent the last week in a hotel alone, taking my pregnant body all over Minneapolis. I’m figuring out the politics of getting published, reminding myself of writing techniques I’ve forgotten from grad school, and supporting small journals.

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This feels like a transition period. From once loving to travel alone to now feeling… not so settled with it. I want my family around me. I want to be able to mentally laser focus on something, but I also need to be able to come home to my kids and husband. This is shocking to me. I originally was craving this space for myself, but once here it became clear that something had changed. I have an amazing husband who doesn’t require many check-ins, we don’t guilt or feel jealous, I know that he has absolute control over the house and the kid while I’m gone, but there is a certain level of distraction on my end because I can’t hug my kid at the end of the day. I now understand why musicians take their kids on tour with them. It ends up not being a disaster, I don’t think, I think it let’s them work their ass off when they aren’t around them and then feel secured in family when they are. I think I need that too.

Hi 30. I’m starting to GET you.

Other notables from this year:

  • 2 pairs of much-loved pants wore out in the booty and had to be sent to pant heaven within a few weeks of each other. Impressive.
  • Currently OVER 10,000 words written on my new grad book.
  • The Duprez house was chronically ill from mid December all the way through March this year. But! It was mostly just annoying colds, with 2 really terrible sweat and bathrobe inducing cold/flus, so all in all I think we’re on an upswing since the previous year? God that’s sad.
  • 1 successful dead fish swap.
  • Half way to our house down-payment savings plan!
  • Successfully have a year of college savings/investment for Gabe.
  • Wills and life insurances up to date!
  • Only 2 round-trip flights taken. I think that is an all time 10 year low.

Now on to what’s in store next. 30s. Here we go…

April

It is April today. No fools to be had in my neck of the woods and no fooling either.

This is the month I turn 30 and start a new decade.

This is the month I end my current job after a year and go into a bit of an unknown/new beginning phase that will last quite a while. New human, new job, new commute? new schedule? What is in store for me? I jump off the dock this month.

This month I will be traveling solo without a kid and without a husband for the first time since spring of 2013.

It will be the longest I’ve been away from my child ever.

It might be too long.

But it means I get to do a lot of ME things. And I get to visit with the lovely Margaret and Jeff and meet a certain Kelly in real life for the first time ever! And edit things and be inspired and sleep in a bed without a snoring mate. And not have to worry about being home by a certain time or nap schedules. I may be feeling very giant, pregnant, and short of breath, but hot diggity… I’ll take it.

April. April is a good month. It’s for realies spring. It is for realies flowers and rain showers and sunny mornings and sunny evenings and a glimpse into what summer life in Seattle is like with the never ending day and the lazy after work evenings in the park.

April is good.

What is this month for you?