Happy 31 Kamel!

Remember last  year when you turned 30 and we did almost nothing because I was pregnant and lame and then I bought you cupcakes and ran into your cousin at our favorite italian restaurant so we all had dinner with his friends and then later we ate the cupcakes I bought in the car on the way home? And I cried? Because it was your 30th and we had done nothing because I was pregnant and lame?

Well now we have a baby. Happy Birthday!!

Just kidding. Except about … all of it.

I’m writing this the night before your 31st birthday so let me predict what tomorrow will bring: On this day, your birthday, we will wake up like usual ( a little later than usual… maybe 6:00am?… unless the baby wills it earlier (edit: the baby willed it at 515am)) and I will say, “It’s your birthday!! Happy 31!” and then I will take a photo of you (insert photo below this paragraph) because it is  your birthday and birthday bed head should be documented! And I will give you a card, because I love cards.

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Then we will go to work because we are grownups and birthdays no longer mean jumpy houses in the backyard and pizza parties at the skating rink… although they should. And I am hoping that people will get you a cake or something fun because special things like that on your birthday at work are kind of the best. Even if they are a little awkward, they should still be done. I hope there is singing.

And then after work we will go to Safeway to pick out one of those small square cakes that are really like ginormous square pieces of cake. You’ll probably get tres leches if they have it. Then we will come home and I will make you whatever you want for dinner and afterwards we will eat our cakes straight from the boxes with forks, because sometimes that’s the best part of being an adult, and you’re 31 now after all. And that will be it.

On Saturday you will be able to sleep in and play video games to your heart’s content as I handle the baby.

Happy Birthday, Kamel! Here is what I wish for you in your new year:

I hope you get to watch more movies and play more video games than you did last year. You got a lot of them for your birthday and I don’t want them to go to waste.

I hope you have at least 1 day where you do not feel tired, not once!

I hope you still have an intense curiosity about the world, that you hold on to your youthfulness that makes everything fun and interesting.

I hope you laugh many, many times and maybe cry once. Because sometimes crying is just as good.

I hope you are surprised, genuinely and thoroughly surprised, by at least 3 things.

And finally, I hope you have one of those out of body experiences where you look around you and think, “holy shit… I am here, in this place, doing this thing, and it is AMAZING.”

You make my life better even on your grumpiest of days. I love you! Happy 31!

My Birthday Insanity – An Honest Retelling

I’m very aware and very wary (say that three times fast) of the internet shenanigans that involve only showing the good stuff and creating this amazing reality that turns out to be nearly impossible to achieve in the real world. I’m very anti – that. Very. Very very very.

So, though the photos posted online of my birthday were sun-shiny and smiley and bathed in yellow and white and cookie cake, the reality of my birthday trip to wine country with baby and husband in tow was… not the bliss-filled family day full of “playing it be ear” that I had imagined.

The truth is it was stressful. And we are still not parent-experts (I’m still waiting for that expertness to kick in… it happens one day, right internet? RIGHT?!), so we keep learning as we go which means we keep mucking up parts of it and saying, “Well… next time we’ll do X,” in our kindest self-talk. Ok, if I’m being real, most of the time it goes like this, “Ahhhh!!!! What are we doing?! We’re killing him, aren’t we? We’re probably giving him some sort of awful stigma and/or emotional issues!!!!” And then I cry and Kamel sweats and yeah…. that was a lot of how my birthday went.

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First realization: Gabe is smaller than I want him to be. I know that everyone tells me to cherish these newborn days because I will miss them. But, I’m not totally digging the newborn-ness. I’m just not. I keep expecting him to act like a baby and not a newborn, but he doesn’t. His newborn window of calmness and flexibility is TINY! Also, the outside world really has an affect on him. While we were enjoying a glass of steel-barrel chardonnay with a light lunch of olives/cheeses/salumi and crackers, and the wind was gusting, Gabe was a ticking time bomb. Before you could snap two beautiful wind-swept hair photos, he was on his way to meltdown city and Kamel and I had to hightail it out of there, olives unfinished, wine hastily gulped, stroller zooming down the wheelchair accessible walkway while snooty women with dogs purposefully avoided eye contact. All the while my child screamed because the wind was like whoa. Yay.

Second realization: We attempted a distance that was way way too far away. Gabe was strapped into the car seat too long and the frustrating thing about being in the car is that even though I am just sitting there, I can’t hold him/nurse him/soothe him as long as we are driving.  Fast forward to Gabe going into the “you all have abandoned me cry” (a horrible cry while he looks off into the distance, clearly giving up on all humanity) as we try to find an exit, tears running down my cheeks, and Kamel going, “It’s ok! It’s all going to be ok! It’s ok! Just old on there, Gabe! We got this!…. oh god…. it’s ok!” because there is absolutely nothing we can do. It took us 4 hours to make a 2 hour drive home because we had to keep pulling over to soothe a completely melting down baby who just wanted to be cuddled by mom and dad. I spent at least 2+ hours sitting in the back seat with my hands inside the car seat, wrapped around Gabe, to give the impression that he was being held. This was the only way he wouldn’t cry.

Third realization: It is really awkward and stressful to breast feed in places you haven’t already scouted out. I don’t cover when I feed Gabe because I find it to be overly difficult to juggle the blanket that keeps falling off and my baby who can’t hold his own head up yet. I also really really hate the giant covers that look like aprons that go around your neck. So my boob is out there for about two seconds before my kid’s head covers it, the world hasn’t exploded yet. Anyway – I digress. This was our first all-day-outing and my first experience feeding Gabe multiple times in a row out in public. The first time was at a winery and it was lovely. The sun was shining, there were olive trees, I was mother earth, etc. The second time was in a public park in Calistoga where well-meaning old ladies kept walking by and wanting to chat, there was a creepy dude drinking his 40 on a park bench semi-across from me, and some douchey bros were smoking in the bushes. There were also some families picnicking and such, but my mom radar was mostly trained on the hoodlums. Not ideal. The third time was in a parking lot, sitting in the car, while trying to snarf down the only dinner we could come up with because Gabe was not at all digging the whole “sit down meal” idea. (Happy Birthday to meeeee.) And the 4th time was on the way home and we had to pull over in a super rough area of Oakland, in a packed strip-mall parking lot. Next time will be better. Next time he will be a little older. Next time I’ll know what’s up.

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Overall, it was a learning experience. The good things were meaningful: I got to blow dry my hair and really feel good about my grown-up-put-together outfit AND leave the house in it. I got the most delicious cookie cake known to man and felt really taken care of by Kamel. The weather was beautiful, and as we drove out of the city, singing to Brandi Carlile, thinking on what it meant to be 28, my son sleeping in the backseat, I realized for the first time I felt like a grown up. Not the kind that is boring, but the kind that puts her child before herself even on her birthday, the kind that cherishes the quiet moments where you sit in the car, singing and holding your husband’s hand, the kind that doesn’t get wrapped up in big parties or events because sunshine and creating your own Saturday adventure sounds even better.

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It wasn’t perfect, it was stressful and exhausting. It was harder than I thought it would be. But as Kamel kept saying, “We did it! We succeeded! We made it all the way to where we wanted to go and with a baby!” All day family outing? Check. Success? Nobody died… so… check? Next time we’ll do better.

The Year I Was 27

**I wrote this on Saturday, which was my birthday, knowing it would go live today. Thank you for all of the birthday wishes this weekend!! It was an insane day… but more on that later.

A year ago on this day I was waking up at the Bellagio in Vegas. Today I woke up a bajillion times in the night in my bed, next to a very sleepy Kamel, to the tunes of the baby Gabe politely requesting a diaper change and some fucking food mom, ok?!

Cake Photo

I have been writing my year in review for many years now, but some of those posts have gone the way of the old blog world. If you would like to catch up on 24, 25, and 26 there they are! Today I turn 28 and this post is all about the year I was 27. (Holy numbers batman!) I prefer my years over the world’s years for contemplation. I want to remember always that 1 year is a lot of time, but also a short blip. I don’t want to ever take for granted the time I have here, and whether I’m experiences adventures ginormous or teensy, the redundancy of work/home/work/home/work, or the lameness of overflowing laundry and the pile of mail that just continues to grow – it’s good for me to take a step back and think about what all was done from start to finish in this one measurable space of my life.

I never really felt 27… odd years are hard for me to wrap my brain around for whatever reason. Like 2013 – I keep thinking it is 2014. And when I was 27 I kept second-guessing myself. “27? Is that right? How old am I again? Are you sure?” I am relieved to now be 28.

So it started off in Vegas, on a cold April day in the desert. I was wearing my green birthday dress that I had bought because, yes. I think everyone deserves a little bit of an indulgent birthday suit, even if you are just wearing it for pizza and beer. Dressing up makes me happy, and what better way to celebrate than by making myself happy? Well… that dress soon found a pair of jeans underneath it because hot damn it was cold.

In May I was able to take part in Maris and Alex’s wedding. By far the most exhausting weekend of my entire life! Maris knows how to throw a freaking party, and girl did not leave the wedding until they shut it down. I wrote about my feelings on sisters and the emotional experience of watching my favorite people go through major life events. I had really good hair and we all wore fabulous shoes. Oh yeah – and of course there was EPIC EPICNESS with Margaret and Jeff! The hot air balloon ride that nearly gave Kamel a heart attack, but that will go down in history as the most surprisingly amazing thing I have ever done (until something else comes along, but good luck something else! You have big shoes to fill!).

In May I also went to Houston for work and broke the rental car and had a meltdown in my hotel room. I also got a lot of bug bites, got to hang out with Rachelle and Amanda J, watch soccer, eat barbecue, and zoom through a lot of tolls without paying. Oops.

In June, I got pregnant! And even before I knew I was pregnant (but I totally was!) I got to spend an entire day with miss Kinzie and her brand new husband, Donnie on their honeymoon! We didn’t announce the pregnancy until I was 3 months-ish, but I started writing about all of that crazyness right away and saving it in drafts.

The summer months were a lot of me being really sick and trying desperately to pretend I wasn’t. I spent a lot of time on the floor in the hallway of my work trying not to throw up or pass out. I spent a lot of time trying to come up with things to say on this blog that were not, “Kill me, kill me now, I am so fucking sick,” over and over again. We had a brand new pool in our apartment complex but we only used it once because of me being bloated and sick. I did not get any sun on my legs. At one point it got so hot in our apartment (with no AC and no breeze) we spent a lot of time on the floor in our living room willing the world to cool down a little bit. Oh, and we ate a lot of watermelon. Gobs of watermelon! One time we each ate 1 whole watermelon all by ourselves in 1 day! And then we peed every hour for the rest of the night.

In August we went to Mexico City for our godson’s first communion. It was a challenge with how sick I was, but it was also kind of amazing to rock the jet-setting-ness even while wanting to puke all of the time. Plus, I love love love Mexico City and my extended family there. They are some of my favorite people in one of my favorite cities of all time.

In September Kamel turned 30!! In October we went to Disneyland with Sarah and Jon and found out we were having a boy. (Not at the same time, of course.) And in November Kamel voted for the first time and I went to Vegas as an obviously-pregnant-woman for work for a week. It’s weird dodging and weaving the party people when you are growing a human and cannot partake AND needing to get up in the morning like usual… all at the HardRock.

In December I was up in Seattle for work, to be a pregnant bridesmaid in my best friend, Kathleen’s beautiful winter wedding, and for Christmas. I love Seattle SO much and being able to spend so much time there was a gift.

In January we finished our bedroom/nursery and then I waited. I waited and waited and got bigger and bigger and worked and waited some more. And then on March 8th Gabriel arrived! I had a baby and our family became 3. I traveled more than I ever thought I would as a pregnant lady, and survived some major yucks with pregnancy that I truly never anticipated. Labor was challenging, straightforward, magical, mind-blowing, and epic epicness… also something I never thought I would feel.

Being 27 was not at all as I expected. I knew that I wanted to get pregnant, but the reality of what that meant changed the year in ways I never anticipated. Honestly, being 27 started out with me feeling older than I should have, but now looking back I see that it wasn’t about feeling old or coming to terms with being in my “late twenties” – it was a discovery on how life keeps happening regardless. It didn’t matter that I was pregnant, I still had to get up every day and go to work. I had to come to terms with putting a few career-y things on hold, while finding other ways to push myself further with my day job. It didn’t matter that I was pregnant, my best friend needed me in her wedding and hot damn I was going to be there, we were summoned to Mexico City for our godson and we went. Family events occur, holidays, work travel, life. Though I said “no” a lot more than I ever had in previous years, it turns out that it doesn’t matter if you are sick or uncomfortable, life keeps happening anyway. My 27th year was about either showing up or letting life run you over. In my 27th year it wasn’t all grand adventures, it was about the small victories, about family, and about identifying the priorities worth showing up for.

Saturday Edition: Lauren it’s Your Birthday, Happy Birthday Lauren!

Hi Lauren!

I’m hijacking your blog to write you a happy birthday post. I hope you don’t mind.

This is the first year that it will just be the two of us… well, almost. It will just be the THREE of us. Still, this year we don’t have to deal with you having the flu. Or, being away at a work trip. Or, with your parents in Vegas. This will be the first year it is just me and you having a really, really nice day.

What a year this has been, no? We have a baby. Can you fucking believe it? I can hear you singing to him as I type this.

I can’t wait until midnight for when I get to be the first person to wish you a happy birthday and tell you I love you. I also cannot wait to give you your presents. Because, as you know, the BEST part of presents is actually giving them. And as stressed out as I get with presents, I’m doing pretty good so far, with only 2 known duds which were quickly remedied. haha.

Today there will be a road trip. Visits to our wineries. GIANT COOKIE CAKE! Presents. Pictures, lots of pictures. And of course lots of love (and lots of diapers and feedings). And if in the end, we have to bail and head back home before we even get anywhere, the fact that we are just cruising and enjoying a nice day alone means everything will still be okay no matter what. I love hanging out with you, even when it’s just us sitting on our couch with me yutzing about online, while you’re on your computer typing away and making your idle faces.

You’re my favorite person. I wish I could have the writing abilities you have for just a few moments to let you know in fancy pants writerly ways how much you mean to me, and how much fun I’ve had since I’ve met you. I loved last year with you, and I cannot wait to see what this year brings us! I cannot wait to see what crazy shit you’ll have me do this year. As much as I think it can’t beat a hot air balloon or rock climbing classes, I’m sure you’ll think of something that will continue to keep me on my toes and ready to go on wacky adventures with you.

I love you.

Happy Birthday.

Now lets have cookie cake:

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PS. Once you’re feeling better about your post baby body, I will get you a dozen cupcakes and I will publicly challenge you on this blog to see if you can actually eat them all in one sitting. because I think that is BS and you can’t. NO ONE CAN!

The Year I was 26

It’s that time again: My Year In Review! You can see 25 and 24 if you need to catch up. Today I turn 27 and that is a little freaky.

A few weeks ago, during a particularly stressful day at work, I took a minute to escape to the bathroom and have a moment of quiet. I was in there alone, so I dilly dallied at the mirror, getting really close to it and examining my face. I saw my cluster of chin hairs (that Kamel loves to pull out and torture me with), my parentheses around my mouth, my growing forehead lines – all of which are not really that big of a deal. And I whispered, “27,” at myself. I wanted to hear it out loud, I wanted to associate it with myself. It didn’t really work.

Last year on my birthday I was tagging along on Kamel’s business trip and sitting in the 4 Seasons in Santa Barbara. This year I’m at the Bellagio with my husband and my parents. How did I get from there to here?

In May I had the first wedding related event, my wedding shower. In June the girls threw my bachelorette, and the in July I got married. Though I have done lots of great, fulfilling things in my life (lived in different states, epic road trips, solo travel, grad school, etc) this was the biggest life event I’ve experienced to date. And the weird thing is it feels simultaneously as though it happened yesterday and like it happened 10 years ago. Time is a tricky bitch.

Kamel and I took our very first real vacation together on our honeymoon when we went to Cancun. I have never needed a vacation more in my entire life and I think I slept for half the trip. It was awesome.

In August I took a big risk and chopped off all of my hair. It was one of the most liberating experiences. I felt incredibly sexy.

In September I realized that my current editing position just wasn’t fulfilling. It wasn’t headed in a positive direction, it wasn’t helping me attain my end goals any longer and I realized I needed to quit. I also realized that working from home was a terrible, terrible idea for me, and I admitted to needing a major change. I didn’t admit this to any of you guys until December, but I was struggling with it for months and months before that. From September to December I had a really rough time. I felt incredibly lonely and isolated, frustrated with where I was headed professionally and very unsure of what path to take.

And then in October I did something I vowed I would never ever do – I moved outside of the city. And it actually ended up being one of the best decisions Kamel and I have ever made. We love love love love our apartment. We love our little neighborhood and we end up using the city WAY more than we used to because we live right by the train. So, no more buses, no more parking, and no more tiny tiny cubby of a one bedroom apartment. Closets people! They are AMAZING.

Fall 2011 was all about applying for relevant work. And it all sort of zoomed by in a hazy, frustrated, hopeful blur.

December came and it was one of the hardest months marriage-wise. Kamel and I were not getting along, there was a lot of stress with the holidays and I was just…. mad at him for changing my little family world. I felt separated from the important parts of my family tradition and I resented him for it. But then! Something awesome happened, and I was truly welcomed into Kamel’s side of the family in Mexico City. Only the second time in my life I’ve felt really pulled into a group of people not because I was born into it, but because they chose me. It’s a really excellent feeling and I am very grateful for it.

January I started my first career-oriented office job and went on my first ever business trip working for Priceline. I really felt fulfilled in being a content editor for the hotels department. I still feel like I have a purpose going to work and writing about hotels every day, I still really like the structure and the routine, but I also can see into the future and see my current position as a stepping stone. It’s good to have a plan, an exit strategy, and motivation for bigger and better things while still appreciating where you are. (Where I am.)

In February I did my second scary thing and started rock climbing classes with Kamel.

In March I began a travel whirl wind that ends this weekend. It started with a weekend trip to Seattle for Maris’s wedding shower, then Barcelona, then wine tasting up north with our lovely friends Amanda and Chad. April arrived like March had been nothing but a long weekend and I took off for Seattle again for Maris’s bachelorette party the weekend before my birthday.

And now you’re caught up, the dots have been connected. From Santa Barbara to Vegas, from 26 to 27, 10 pounds lost, 12 inches of hair removed, a new job and a new apartment and a new husband gained. New friends solidified, more memories made with the usual suspects, more risks and more travel. And I still wonder where the time has gone, because wasn’t it just yesterday I was writing about being 25? And wasn’t it just last week I was trying to finish my thesis, wondering who this photographer guy, Kamel, was? And wasn’t it just last month I lived in Illinois, was angsting over a past boyfriend, working at a coffee shop, walking home at midnight in the below freezing wind chill? And wasn’t that also like 100 years ago?

Last Year In His 20s

Kamel turned 29 this weekend! And we did a lot of running around on his birthday but made sure to take time to celebrate him being an old old man.

This is the third birthday that I’ve spent with you and every year it just gets better and better. I hope you never lose your curiosity, your willingness to have an adventure, and your contagious joy.

When you were 28 you married me, went on your first real vacation as a grown up (honeymoon!), switched jobs, and learned to like broccoli.

I call that a success! Loving you into your 30s, 4os, 50s… and beyond!

The Year I Was 25

Every year on my birthday I do a recap of the year before. It’s amazing what all can happen between the beginning and end of a year. I’ve been doing these since I was 21, but alas, they can’t be found on the internet anymore. If you’d like to read about my 24th year, you can go here.

When I turned 25 I was still living with Kamel’s sister in her living room on a blow up bed on the floor. A month letter I was engaged! And then in July I moved in with Kamel, the very first boyfriend I had ever lived with, and we started building our very own family.

25th Birthday

In September I started interning for Meg at A Practical Wedding and that quickly changed the path of my career, showing me that I have the potential to build something for myself entirely dependent on the world of words.

In October I crossed the first thing off my Life List – I took surfing lessons. Surfing was an amazing challenge and something I never really want to do again. Ha. The biggest challenge of crossing this off was coming up with the guts to actually commit to it. But once I started crossing things off, it became a priority to finish my next goal. The challenge of getting to that point, of finishing something major (or small, but maybe major to me), is incredibly fulfilling.

This Christmas was the best Christmas I can remember. I have been living Christmas as an only child for… forever. And this year I got to have a buddy! Finally! A play mate! And having Kamel there also made me feel like our family was complete, he filled a hole that I hadn’t even realized had grown during my adult life.

In January I crossed another thing off my life list by going to Alt Summit as a part of the Practical Wedding Team. That was another transformative experience for my career and for my inside self, I finally realized I had to choose a path, and couldn’t do it all, all at once. It felt scary, but also freeing, to choose a focus and throw myself into making that focus successful.

Alt Summit

And all spring has been focused on wedding planning, and all of the final touches.

A year ago I was working in a trailer in Colma, getting ready to go out to Amber (A yum, yum, fancy pants Indian restaurant downtown SF), and very frustrated with where I was headed creatively (hint: nowhere). Today, I’m sitting in the 4 Seasons in Santa Barbara with the remnants of breakfast sitting on a wooden tray next to my computer, while Kamel is out on the patio laying in the chaise lounge. I’m getting paid to edit, and I have a bunch of fabulous readers who make writing meaningful for me. Today I turn the age I will be when I get married, the age I will be when I take new risks, and new career leaps. I can’t wait.

The Year I Was 24

It is amazing, jaw dropping, how many things occur within the start to finish of one year. I’ve done these “The year I was ___” posts since I was 21. You won’t find them here since I started my blog a-fresh, but in a way it’s rather poetic to begin again on the day I turn 25. Everyone likes a nice, round number.

The day I turned 24 I put on my new pink jacket and went to work.


I remember it was a beautiful day and my parent’s were heading back to Seattle and it felt surreal because here it was: The Day. And there wasn’t any hoopla. That had all been taken care of the weekend before. I remember thinking that the following year my birthday would be in Seattle and how different it would all be. So that was April.

In July I moved the first round of things home with Kathleen as co-pilot, went to Naomi’s amazing birthday party, met Kamel and had a photo shoot.


I kept telling Kamel I wasn’t going to fall in love with him, and he kept saying, “ok” until one day I did, and he said, “I knew it.”

In early August Claire came back from Africa. Thank God. And I went to my first peer wedding. Congratulations Tricia!


It was beautiful and I cried. I also set up the apartment for me and Claire. We were finally in the same city and living on Capital Hill as room mates. Amazing. The dynamic duo together again.

In late August I turned in my Master’s Thesis, had a fabulous girl’s reunion in SF and read to a large room of my peers, professors, and parents at Grad Night.




This time my Dad cried.

In August Naomi and I took off in a UHaul and I officially left San Francisco. I was excited, I felt like I was doing the right thing. After a few weeks in Seattle and living with Claire, I started working at the bakery, pinching pennies and enjoying, really enjoying, my long distance relationship with Kamel. Bliss lasted until about October when I started feeling trapped and frustrated with Seattle. I wasn’t writing, I had no money, and no matter how I searched, I just couldn’t find any relevant work. My loan was looming and I doubted I could pay it, but I pushed it aside and tried to work harder. I picked up more shifts, I spent even less money, I was always conflicted. I remember a conversation with my parents around Christmas time about what we were all hoping for in the next year. I remember thinking I had nothing to look forward to.

In Late Jan. I checked the job situation in San Francisco and burst into tears while sitting at my newly purchased desk. It was clear I needed to move back. I planned the exodus for the end of February and on the 28th I loaded my car up and, with Kamel, drove back to The City.

This morning I woke up when Kamel came into his sister’s living room and crawled into the blow up bed to cuddle me at 6am. We made frozen pancakes in the toaster, Regina greeted me with messy hair and a sing songy “happy birthdayyyy!” Eric wandered out of his room with a zippy wrapped around his waist, singing to me on his way to the bathroom and Kamel and I danced in the kitchen.

For this year of my life I have made two goals.
Goal 1: Write every single day for at least 30 min. Blogs do not count. I don’t plan on missing any, but if I do, I’ll have to call it out on here. Root for me.
Goal 2: Run a consistent 6 miles. Right now I’m doing 2? Well, the point is, I’m starting and focused on achieving this one. It boggles me how some people can simply whip out 6-8 miles, no problem. That’s never been me. But let’s see if I can become someone like that. I have a year. And who knows where I’ll be at the end of this one.