Best Birthdays, A Future Podcast That Needs YOU!

In order to get next week’s podcast up and running, I need help from YOU. Deadline is tomorrow at noon PST! 

Next week, in honor of Gabriel’s 3rd birthday, the podcast will be a collection of stories from you all! A collection of stories about your best birthday ever. It can be from when you are a little kid, or a grownup birthday.

Which birthday was your favorite? Why? Tell me the story! Tell me about presents and suprises and parties and amazingness.

To make this all happen, we have set up a voicemail box! We’ll be able to download each individual voicemail and edit them all together for 1 great show.

To participate, please call 415-275-0551

Continue reading “Best Birthdays, A Future Podcast That Needs YOU!”

Happy 60th Dad!

My dad has been celebrating his birthday since my parents went on a crazy vacation to the wilds of Wyoming to go on some intense horseback riding trips in September. 60! The big 6-0! Somehow this is a bigger, better birthday than 50.

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(After running the stairs up the Space Needle!)

My dad is now retired, my parents are figuring out what they want to do with the rest of their lives now that they have the freedom to not be chained to a job, and now my dad has started the decade where all of that will take place.

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Last weekend we went to the beach with my parents for a few days of vacation and to spend some time relaxing in one of our favorite places. Growing up we went to the beach every summer. The 3 hour drive to Pacific Beach was our only vacation for many years. I have dreamed of when I’d be taking my own kids there with my parents and now it is happening.

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This weekend we’re all going out to a fancy steak dinner to celebrate him in style. Birthday extravaganza!

Happy Birthday, Dad!! The 60s are going to be fantastic!

 

Happy 33 Kamel!

For your birthday here are 33 things – the endearing, the fantastic, the annoying (annoying with love, of course!) that make you Kamel. My partner, my buddy, the biggest pain in my rear, my biggest cheerleader.

1.) Your poofy microphone hair.

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2.) Your jokes. And how I hear the same ones a million times a day and yet – and yet! AND YET they still delight you with just as much gusto as the first time.

3.) How much you love FOOD. Because oh man, it is a LIFE JOY FOOD IS. And what would I do with someone who didn’t love food? Oh could you imagine? No.

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4.) Speaking of food – how you declare you don’t like something. Like broccoli or peanuts or any nut or bell peppers. And then I force it upon you and it becomes your FAVORITE THING EVER. You are not a reliable narrator, Kamel.

5.) Speaking of reliable narrators…. How you think you know something with such confidence, to the point where I believe you and tell all of my coworkers and then it turns out that you didn’t quite read that correctly, or didn’t quite know and just thought you knew…. classic Kamely moment = me having to go back and tell people I was wrong because of your misinformation. You’d think I’d have learned 6 years down the road, but no… sigh. I just keep on believing you.

6.) “This place is filled with cheesecakes.”

“What?”

“You know… look at all of the cheesecakes… like that guy over there, and that guy.”

“…. you mean BEEF cakes?”

“That’s what it is? But they are so CHEESY!”

7.) “I’m as hungry as a bull in a china closet.”

“I don’t think that’s how it goes…”

“Yeah because he opens up the closet looking for food and it’s just CHINA and gets mad so he RAGES AGAINST THE CHINA.”

8.) “Let’s burn that bridge when we cross it.”

9.) “Let’s kill the bird with two stones.”

“No, hun, it’s kill 2 birds with one stone.”

“What? That makes no sense. This way we really make sure it’s dead!”

10.) How hard you dad. Cuz you dad real hard.

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11.) How good you look in shorts. Rawr.

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12.) Your incredible patience. And how you put up with me dragging you on adventures even if you don’t always want to. Or when you know that it’s going to suck and you have a pretty good idea that I’m going to hate it but you let me gung-ho the shit out of it and then help me out of the situation when I realize I’ve made a huge mistake. I can’t even count how many times I’ve had to say, “I’m sorry but I hate this and you were right.” And all you do is laugh at me and say, “oh, Lauren…”

13.) Kind of like how I thought making a list of 33 things while the baby is napping was going to be an easy feat and now I am at 13 and I have 2o more to go and omg I don’t know if you’re actually that unique. ARE YOU THAT UNIQUE? Can I be adorable for 20 more loving, and possibly annoying, Kamel items?

14.) How you call your toe nails your talons and after you cut your toe nails you pretend like you can no longer grip the floor and start sliding all over the place.

15.) How much you love mimosas.

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16.) Your goofy ass ginormous full on cackle of a laugh. And how it’s so often directed at yourself.

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17.) How your feet are turned out like a penguin.

18.) … And because of that you run like Quasimodo. Awwww little Quasimodo Igor run!

19.) UGH how you always, without fail, step on my FLIP FLOP when I am walking in front of you! WHY!

20.) How you never, ever ever ever ever ever put the dishes back where you found them. AND! *Related* How you never put anything back in the same spot in the fridge. It’s like Where’s Waldo whenever I’m trying to find the mustard, my god man!

21.) How you have a really hard time spending money on yourself, or treating yourself, but will randomly come home with a wireless mouse for me (that I haven’t asked for and didn’t know I needed) just because you think it would make my life easier.

22.) The way you kill ’em with kindness. Especially in business. You disarm with charm and are the nicest person I know.

23.) Until you feel fucked over as a consumer and then hold on to your butts, Comcast/random FroYo place that is charging a credit card minimum/retail store with a shady return policy – cuz Kamel has Better Business Bureau in his favorites and he is NOT afraid to use them!

24.) How it takes you 40 minutes to hang two frames on the wall, but by god our shit is square and even.

25.) How aware you are that by marrying me, you married all of us. That I’m a package deal and you respect the shit out of that.

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26.) How snow is still a magical thing for you because you didn’t grow up with it.

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27.) How much you love to swim and how important it is to you that our kids have a lot of water exposure. (I promise I’ll call the YMCA for swim lessons for Gabe again!)

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28.) How much you fucking love boats even though I fucking hate boats.

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29.) Oh! How could I forget? “That’s the icing on the gravy.”

30.) The copious amount of mugs you own, most of them probably free from work events. And how you don’t drink coffee or tea. Yet we have so many mugs they don’t all fit in the cupboards, but god forbid we get rid of any of them!

31.) How you have grown to appreciate how I play the Hoarders theme song when you get fidgety about getting rid of any of your (cough useless cough) possessions. You appreciate it, right?

32.) The fact that you do the dishes every day and take so much pride it in even though I never think they are clean enough. 0__0

33.) And number THIRTY THREE! How you will be mildly embarrassed about me putting all of these photos of you in this post, but mostly you will just think it is funny. 🙂

HAPPY 33rd Kamel!! There will be Star Wars, there will be snacks, there will be BBQ chicken sandwiches in your future. <3 I love you!

Claire Turns 30

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I feel like I have known you my whole life even though it has really only been about 15 years. But really – at what point does THAT become “my whole life”??

You were the first person I told I lost my virginity.

And you were always the first call after every break up.

The most important thing you’ve ever told me was, “Lauren, he is NOT COMING BACK,” and I hated you for it but I was so grateful for it all at the same time.

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After your computer was stolen in Africa, I bought you a (tiny tiny tiny) new one. For my college graduation you took out a credit card just so you would be able to travel all the way to Illinois and pay for stuff and help me pack up my entire room through all of the emotional upheaval that was my early 20s. I would have driven out of that apartment with clothes thrown into garbage bags if it hadn’t been for your clothes-rolling-technique and your calming presence. I owe you a million moves just for that one.

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Who else is up for a long weekend in Vegas? When we are 22 and poor and should be doing other things (should be doing exactly what we were doing). Who else do I come to with at a karaoke bar at the Taj Mahal (I think?). Who else would I follow Tricia into a giant beer pong room with? Who else do I get my first tattoo with? Eat Denny’s on the strip at 4am with?

Who else agrees to a Disneyland trip. Again with no money, and no time for such things, just to give me something to look forward to after the final straw in a terrible terrible break up round robin.

Who lives with me in a 1 bedroom apartment because neither of us can afford anymore than $400 something in rent a month.

Getting locked out of your apartment in Portland and climbing through a window and breaking your landlord’s lamp.

Staying at the Sheraton and getting dressed up and camping out at The Chapel for New Years Eve.

Epic netflix marathons. Hoarders. Intervention (oh god INTERVENTION). A thousand and ten walks. A thousand and ten Walgreens runs.

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And now you are THIRTY!!! And this is your decade. The decade made for Claire and I have said this for the last ten years. 20s are for the birds! 30s were made for Claire Jesse. It’s only going to get so much better from this day on. Can you EVEN IMAGINE IT? I can’t. It’s going to be that awesome.

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Happy 30th birthday Claire!!

Love,

Lauren

Maris Turns 30

The milestones, they just keep coming. Of course, we all look exactly like we did 10, 15 years ago, because duh. And really all this means is that we’re now both that much wiser. Right?

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(Sorry for the terrible quality, I think this was for one of the joint 19th birthday celebrations ELEVEN YEARS AGO what is happening to this world?!)

Maris is one of those people who I would not be me without. I literally talk to her almost every day. She is definitely one of the most driven, and smartest people I know. She is worldly, well traveled, and is a wealth of secret nerd information.

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Ever since Scripture class when we were 15 you have been surprising me with your complexity. Your love of peanut butter pickle sandwiches, your perpetually injured hands from some cooking experiment or failed failed failed DIY project. And let’s not forget our mad-dash race to Best Buy while Kamel drove like a sad sad old lady in order to get me hooked up with World of Warcraft.

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If I need a snacking buddy, I go to you. If I need shopping advice, I go to you. Social what-the-fuckery, I go to you. When I needed a buddy to drive with me to San Francisco – a place I had never been and was moving to – you piled in the car. We slept on the FLOOR of my future apartment, which would later be infested with mice! WITH MICE. But hey, sleeping bags and a shared foam mattress cover, paired with sweet sweet ignorance. That’s what best friends are for.

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(Maris’s 21st Birthday!)

We’ve been there for every major milestone. All the big birthdays. All the big sads. All the big happies. The big fights, the make ups. If I need someone to stare daggers on my behalf, I know who to call.

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Happy 30th Birthday Maris!!!! The next year, the next 5, the next 10 – it’s going to be a great adventure.

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Love,

Lauren

Weekending 34

This weekend felt like 3 in the best way possible. There was all the usual stuff, complete with getting things back on track from my time away, plus extra fun Birthday celebrations, cuddling a newborn and dropping off chili and cornbread for my recently un-pregnant friend Maggie, a solo pedicure where I sat quietly for an hour (reading two magazines! HEAVEN!), and a lot of park time.

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Gabe was out sorts this weekend, refusing food, being extra grumpy and sleepy, just difficult overall. He even spiked a random fever on Saturday afternoon. Toddlers are mysteries. We only made it through half the dance class because Gabe was tired and squirrely and kept walking away from the group to go it alone. We did get some unprecedented participation, but he clearly wasn’t 100% feeling it so we went and had pizza instead.

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Saturday evening my friends surprised me with tickets to the restaurant (Hit It Here Cafe) in the Mariner’s stadium for a 30th birthday party! The weather was fantastic, the game was great, and the company was even better.

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(You can’t escape being pregnant even at your own party)

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(This photo took 3 strangers and about 7 re-dos before we could get it about right. And even then we’re missing Tricia and Jack who took off early because: KIDS… they ruin everything.)

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(The rocks were icky and he stood on only 1 leg for quite a while)

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(Maternity shorts. I never thought I’d see the day.)

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(Two feet into the park and: HOLD THE PHONE – GRAVEL!)

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(The best way to finish off a weekend – some Little Mermaid.)

Not pictured:

– Newborn snuggles

– Piles of laundry

– Gabe’s 500 meltdowns

Liz saving the day and babysitting on Saturday night.

– My freshly painted pink toes

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…

Weekending 32 – Gabe’s Birthday

This weekend was pretty much Gabe’s Birthday Extravaganza 2.0. All SaturdayI was at my parent’s using my dad’s kitchen, his cake pans, an his extra set of hands to make my balloon inspired cake. Then Sunday it was holy-shit-people-are-coming cleaning palooza! But in the end, we had a house full of people who loved my son, a delicious cake, and balloon hats for everyone!

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Birthday mornings are for epic epic EPIC meltdowns (Who knew?!) and no pants.

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Hi Auntie Maris and Uncle Alex!

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Party ready!

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Balloon fishing!

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Balloon cake!

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Elsa Balloon!

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Margaret & The Big 3-0

A few days ago someone said (or maybe I read it, or maybe it was even like an inspirational mug and/or greeting card) something about the things that inspire you. What inspires you? I thought about making a list. I started a list in my mind. And within the top 3 was Margaret.

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Margaret who I went to grad school with.

Margaret who sticks to working in non-profits even though it can be limiting and frustrating in the shit economy we all popped out of grad school into.

Margaret who is definitely a better writer than I, who pushes me to be a better writer than I think I am.

Margaret who teaches writing on the side.

Who is always up for adventures, who emails me about writerly/bloggy drama, who gets why I am actually fascinated by online writerly/bloggy drama, who listened to me wail about how I would never have built-in shelving…. like EVER… when a massive blogger showcased HER built-in shelving and Margaret totally understood my despair. She got it, ya know?

She was an amazing friend to me when I dragged myself back to San Francisco after 9 months in Seattle post graduation. When I was unemployed and living in Kamel’s sister’s living room on a blowup bed. She hooked me up with her temp agency, and eventually I made my way to her little trailer in the middle of nowhere to work in a room next to her, lamenting our under-employed, over-educated state. We’d go out for long lunches to Thai Food, laugh and cry to Ask Sugar, play Words With Friends on Facebook – constantly refreshing refreshing refreshing waiting for the other person to make their next move.

When she finally moved back to Minnesota we took her out for her goodbye outing and tried to out drink the boys we were with. It didn’t end particularly well. I cried in the car all the way home, big terrible sobs. I was going to miss her so much.

This is not a sad story though! It’s a great story! She came back and visited and we ate more thai food this time with our boyfriends and almost got trapped in Yosemite under 10 feet of snow.

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The power went out and the water stopped working and we lit candles and made the best of it.

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We went hot air ballooning into the epic epicness.

And now she is 30! Like a grown up or something!

Over the next year there will be a lot of 30s happening in my world. And it’s important to me because big birthdays mean something. Every birthday means something, but the big ones are special. And I’m just so lucky to have a Margaret. I am a better person for it and I am so happy she exists. Happy birthday on your 30th year! It’s going to be an amazing decade.

Birthday + National Stress Awareness Month (Inspired by Vegas.com)

Kamel and I probably should take more time to do little date-afternoons or spend more time on the weekends relaxing instead of frantically cleaning or finishing projects. But life, as always, seems to push its way through into my zen space.

Vegas.com asked me recently to talk about the Vegas state of mind, about how I let loose on the daily – when vacations are few and far between, and when the daily grind of work and baby and family are always threatening to take over. My birthday weekend was a perfect example (Good timing Vegas.com!).

My birthday, this year, was on a Sunday so the weekend was mine! All Mine! On Saturday we headed up north to tulip country (though, to Kamel’s deep sadness, we were not in the tulip fields) with my parents and Gabe for a 5k walk. This was part of the Tulip Festival that was kicking off that very weekend.

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Going for walks and exploring nature has always been my preferred method of letting loose. It’s free, it’s refreshing, it’s good for you, and it lends time for either great conversation with my favorite people or much needed quiet time with myself and my own thoughts. It was a stunning weekend in Seattle, so an even better excuse to head outside.

After our 3 mile walk we headed to a local brewery for craft beer and pub fair. I had a pile of nachos. Gabe scarfed fries, burgers and pulled pork were had, and presents were opened.

Then, on my actual birthday we started off the day with pancakes!

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Kamel had got us amazing Mariners tickets from StubHub, right behind home plate for a steal. So we packed up the baby and shipped him off to my parents house for the afternoon while we headed off to the stadium. Kamel hadn’t been to a baseball game in years and had never been to Safeco. Baseball games are one of my favorite things in the whole world (not so much to watch on TV, but to attend – always!). Plus it was one of the rare weekend days where it was just the two of us, being our goofy selves, and not having to keep in mind diaper changes, feeding schedules, or nap times. Let loose indeed.

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(Candle in the hot dog? Yes.)

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(Cheers to a Vegas state of mind in my home town.)

It was just the perfect day. Sunshine and cold beer and sportball food that you never eat ever but then when you do it’s like, “Oohhh yessss. This is heaven.” Getting to spend quality, no stress, no expectations time with my love, and turning 29. This is how it’s done.

And it was another reminder that Kamel and I need time without the baby, and not just TIME, but fun time. Because when it is all work and all responsibility, we forget how much fun we are – even to each other. And I think that’s the beauty of the Vegas mindset – it’s not just unwinding, it’s unwinding and having a blast doing it.

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If you’d like to play the Vegas state of mind game with me and Vegas.com, hashtag #LetLoose2014 and tell me about the way (regardless of money or ability to travel) you’re kicking back on the daily – or have plans to do so in the future!