Gabe is Four

Gabriel is now a kid. That is the news of the day. He can reach the toaster while standing on the kitchen floor. He no longer wears pullups to bed. He pees standing up. He eats apples (!!) without cutting them up. He makes 1,000 fart and poop jokes a day. He tells me, “Moooom I’m just being FUNNY,” when I don’t get it. When I mom-it-up.

Gabriel is so easy to play with. I say, “Gabe do you want to play with me with your boat?” YES. YES HE DOES. And I let him lead a grand adventure about ghosts and witches and animals that die. Die die die. They always die. Terrible things are always befalling everyone. And hexes. So many hexes.

He is up to play any game I make up. He is up for it all.

“Ok, you have to try and keep the ball up in the air for as long as you can, but you can only hit it with one hand and you have to be sitting and you have to sit on the hand you’re not using.”

These are my rules. He makes sure we all follow them and take turns.

He loves and hide and seek. But he isn’t very good at concealing where he is hiding or even where he wants to hide. If it is my turn and he likes where I’ve just hidden, he will tell me, as I am walking away to count, that he is going to hide there too. We are trying to teach him the point of the game, but so far have not succeeded.

He whines. Oh god, the whining. He stomps his little feet and throws a mini tantrum when I tell him no. His whining makes me not want to give him anything ever in life.

His favorite characters are the bad guys. Always the bad guys. They are the most interesting, the most complicated, the most magical.

He likes to be carried, facing out, so he can fly like a bird. If he stops flapping he wants us to start to slowly drop him to the ground until he starts flapping again. He is heavy. This is hard. We indulge him.

His dad is his absolute best friend. On Monday mornings he is sad to say goodbye to his dad when he leaves for work or when we drive away, leaving Kamel to grab his coat and lock up before heading to the bus stop.

When Gabriel gets scared or hurt that is where I’m most needed. Any injustice? Mom. Sometimes when he tumbles off something I quickly say, “Gabriel! Are you ok?!” And he shrugs me off. “Stop saying that!” as he jumps back up. Sometimes when he startles himself I hover over him, giving him the wide eyed shocked face of “woah.” He looks up at me with initial concern until one of us starts to laugh. He will try and hide is smirk and say, “Stop it….” but the giggles are too much. “That was funny,” I say. He will mock fall over again as we both laugh.

Last week we were driving home from somewhere just before nap time and I didn’t want him to fall asleep in the car and truncate his actual nap. I looked back and his eyes were starting to close. I said “Gabriel, don’t fall asleep buddy, we’re almost home.” He looked at me and then turned his head to the side and with absolute defiance squeezed his eyes shut as hard as he could. It made me laugh so much. We were both laughing. He is a really funny kid.

He has also been hiding one of the loose bricks in the front of our house and driving Kamel mad about it. For a long time Kamel couldn’t figure out where the brick had gone and who had taken it. Then we found it around the side of the house and Kamel couldn’t stop talking about who could have possibly put it over there. (I continually said it was the kids, Kamel was not convinced.) Then one day Kamel caught Gabe in the act of re-hiding it. When he asked why he was doing it, Gabriel said “because I wanted you to think it was monsters!” while laughing. He is already playing tricks on us at barely 4 years old.

All The Things

You guys. My best friend got married, it was so beautiful and I kept having not to cry all day and then I did cry a little when the stress of my children being late crashed down upon me. More on that later.

And then yesterday my husband had surgery and he is home being in pain and I hate it so much. And since this blog is all about ME I’m going to take two seconds to say: Being the caregiver is hard and sad and stressful. And it’s ok to hate it. While also helping them put their pants on and laughing good naturedly at their sheered section from where they operated and making sure they are drinking water and staying on their medicine schedule. During that time it is also ok to grumble about having to be the one to do all the house things and all the kid things and all the usual things while your partner plays video games and does what they are supposed to do – which is to HEAL and REST because if they are fucked up for 1 more goddamn day outside of the 6 week schedule… so help me god.

In other news: I am trying to jump start this space and I have not forgotten it or abandoned it. Tomorrow there will be pretty (and stressful) wedding stories to share and hopefully my husband will also be in less pain.

Flashback Friday: Bo Belly

By popular demand, (ok, one very clever person asked) I am showcasing the pre Lauren Kamel per the discussion in this week’s podcast. Think of this as a giant Flashback Friday.

And for the record, I loved him even when he was a dorkasaurus rex. Big jeans and free tshirts to boot.

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(I asked him if this was like… a borrowed coat or something and he said “No! I loved that coat! I thought I looked so cool! …. I didn’t realize I looked like a sofa!” hahahaha)

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Just in case anyone is concerned I’m being mean, Kamel picked all of these photos out. When I told him that this was what I wanted to do for the post he raced to the internet to find me some goodies.

And for a little comparison:

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You are just the cutest, Mr. Dupuis-Perez. Even in all your free shirt glory.

Episode 12: Is That What You’re Wearing?

To be totally honest, I am usually super, super nervous to start a podcast. I have recording stage fright every single time. I really have to psyche myself up, and Kamel can attest that sometimes I will cancel a recording session because I just can’t wrap my brain around it.

But this time! This time I was so excited to sit down with the mic and Kamel and get down to chatty relationship business! This episode is all about what happens when your partner looks schleppy. When is it ok to address that? How do you go about it? I know that in my own relationship, I have spent a lot of energy coaxing Kamel out of his deep dark clothing hole of free tshirts and all black and oversized. It was a process and at times it was actually really stressful. But now he owns a suit! And actually enjoys how he looks and the variety of clothes in his closet. How do you navigate the, “Is that what you’re wearing?”

Weekend-ing (Week #6)

I just realized that this is the third weekend in a row that Kamel and I have had the chance to run off and do something without the baby. An unheard of concept 6 months ago when we lived in the bay area. Magic.

Ok, so I did not get my shit together and post anything yesterday because this weekend was TOO SHORT. Poof! Where did the weekend go? It did not exist! Except it did, because I have pictures to prove it. But Wow, I needed more.

Kamel and I have been doing an excellent job of exploring new (ish) city. Checking out new neighborhoods, new parks, new things to do with the baby, etc etc. But this weekend Father’s Day came early, my parents were kind enough to watch the baby, and I took Kamel on the Everett Boeing Tour! Where they actually, literally (not figuratively) MAKE airplanes!! Now, generally speaking I really don’t care about airplanes, they do not thrill me like they do Kamel, but being able to do something with him that he is SO excited about made me excited too. Kamel rarely gets to do stuff that is just for him. Watching him geek-out made me want to make stuff like this happen more.

We also occupied a real life backyard at Laura’s house for some barbecue action and grown up conversation. Conversation that probably spent 60% of the time talking about Gabe and his terror/fascination with their cats and dog. Anyone willing to put up with a squirley 1 year old and barbecue us some excellent corn and kabobs? Saints. They deserve saint-hood.

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(We could not take any photos while actually on the tour, or bring anything with us – including phones/cameras/etc – you’ll just have to come visit us and take the tour yourselves!)

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(Later that day I tried my very first attempt at blondies.)

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(They could have cooked a little longer. Gabe clearly gets his patience from me.)

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(Gabe and Louie! Hi Louie!)

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(My Italian is showing)

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(The story of Sunday night.)

Elsewhere:

Proust and Neighbors. I love when famous people are just your average renter.

Love.

A comedy about abortion.

Margaret and I would wait and wait for a new Sugar column to come out and then try not to cry while we read it in our tiny trailer office located in the middle of the bay area cemeteries.

Putin + Women = not such a surprising outcome. 

Amazing photos for the Anniversary of D-Day. 

Endearingly Unsafe

Yesterday at work something weird happened.

I was out for a 10 minute break. It had been raining all day and it had finally stopped and the sun was coming out and the rivers that had just recently been flowing down the sidewalk had begun to dry. The water on the ground was making the sunshine extra delicious and everything smelled really nice. I decided to walk for just a few blocks and then come go back to the office. Afternoon sanity check.

And then standing at the corner, waiting for the hand to become a little walking man, I felt someone brush up against me, brush across my butt and a little up my side. I really didn’t think of it, the corner was normally crowded. People in crowded places don’t generally mean to bump into you, usually it’s a bag or a bulky coat, they don’t even know they are doing it. I’m a benefit of the doubt kind of person, no need to shove back. I’ve witnessed the people who have had their fair share of strangers bumping up in their space bubble. Nobody wins in those confrontations. So, the body space intrusion registered, and then I cataloged it accordingly and kept waiting for the walk sign, thinking my thoughts.

And then the person who had brushed up against me came to a halt directly next to me. Maybe inches from my shoulder. And I glanced at him, as one does. Usually it is a glance (reflex) and then a look away, the face of the person not even registering in my memory bank. Forgotten even before I look away. This time though, he was staring back at me. Staring. And then he looked me up and down with this little hint of a grin. And then he kept staring. And staring.

Now, the majority of this time I was just trying to figure out what had happened and what was happening right in that moment. I was trying to connect the dots and get a handle on the man who was not acting the way the rest of pedestrians in most areas of the world silently agree to act. He looked at me long enough for it to register, for me to figure it out, for me to glare back at him. But he kept staring, kept suggestively glancing me over.

And then I felt it, like a jolt behind my eyes. I felt unsafe. The places where he had brushed up against me suddenly screamed on my skin as unwanted touch. The way he was looking at me made me want to cover myself with my hands, though I was in jeans, tennis shoes, and a raincoat – but that doesn’t matter, does it?

He was part of a local convention. His badge hung big and blue around his neck. He carried a laptop in a squishy sleeve with a handle, he had a semi-military style haircut, he was older. When the light finally turned he looked away from me and strolled across the street in front of me and walked away. He just walked away. I resisted the urge to brush myself off. I looked for someone I knew on the street to tell them what had happened, what that guy had done, but no one I knew was around. I went back up to my office.

I told some male work friends about the incident. They laughed it off, made excuses for the man.

“He was at a convention! He was probably away from his wife, his kids, he was throwing his dice into the ring!”

“He was making a play! You can’t fault him for trying!”

“Wooow that was a club move right there!”

“That guy could try that at 50 street corners, and if just 1 woman eventually responds, then that’s a success!”

This is rape culture. I argued back, said touching is never ok, said how inappropriate it was, but I was too self-conscious to say how scary it was. How threatening it was. How unsafe I felt in broad daylight on a city street. And it’s just funny… it’s just how men are… you can’t blame a guy for trying. And for the hundreds of random people I may glance at a day, a week, a month, I won’t forget his face for a long while. I live in a culture that excuses violence against women, that shrugs it off, and makes it an endearment. I must really have it goin’ on, right? No. I was minding my business, walking along the street, being a human. You don’t get to treat me like I’m yours to do with as you please. Not ever. When this stops being funny and excusable it will be a good day.

 

Things: November

There was a boy, maybe 20 years old, on the train the other day who tried to chat me up. He even made eyes at me. He had freckles and a lot of luggage and was decked out in hockey fan attire. It was adorable and a little shocking that I wasn’t oozing the scent of married-with-child I put on every day. It is now totally clear that I am an old fogey, by the way, because though this adorable young chap was attempting the chat and flirt maneuver I was really just interested in getting back to my book. If only 22 year old me could see me now. Ha-cha-cha.

Oh! A few weeks ago, another chance encounter with a stranger occurred. This time at the starbucks (because that’s specific) by my work (1/30). I was waiting in line and there was a guy in front of me. I paid him no attention at all other than to notice he was there. After I ordered, got my stuff, and walked out, the same man was standing just outside the door. He said, “Excuse me,” to get my attention (and I realize this sounds creepy now, but at the time I swear it wasn’t!) and then told me his name, which I promptly forgot. Out of total polite habit (which also seems absurd now, but stay with me!) I put out my hand and said, “Hi, I’m Lauren.” He then asked, in a very thick Russian-y accent, if I had a boyfriend. He seemed so hopeful it was kind of adorable. I smiled and said yes, and then paused and then said, “Actually I’m married.” He said, “…Oh,” in the most dejected way possible. I smiled and practically skipped my way back to the office. That’s right! Who can attract semi creepy foreigners? THIS GIRL. Still got it.

(Note: My husband, also a little bit of a semi-creeper foreigner as well…it’s all becoming so very clear now…)

I have a new found fervor for reading. I was kind of meh with my last batch of books, but now I am reinvigorated and all I want to do is read and talk about what I’m reading and then read some more. It’s not at all productive for … life, but it is excellent for my brain and happiness. I think happiness wins over productivity whenever I have the time to let it be so. I’m loving reading so much that even though I’m barely half way done with my current reader generated book list, I can’t WAIT to start the next one. So read on I shall.

I am SO looking forward to Christmas this year, and yes it will be great to see a lot of people I love, but more importantly… I am totally enamored with the commercialism of it. Have you seen the new Reeses christmas trees? Because AHH they are so good!! And guess what? I am totally stoked for the presents. STOKED. I feel like I could burn down my closet and feel totally ok with it. I can’t wait to get some new things. Oh the STUFF, sometimes, and this is truly not often, I long and lust and really appreciate the STUFF of life and holidays, especially holidays that involve surprise gifts.

My sister in law mentioned the other day some sort of facebook thing that was going around. Something about “Name the things that defines who you are the most.” At first glance it seems like an easy question, and maybe for some people it actually IS an easy question, but for me (and my sister in law) the more I thought about it the harder it became to piece together. How would I describe my core? All I keep thinking of is: Lauren. I write things, but that’s not all of me. I am a wife and mother, but that certainly isn’t all of me. I am funny (I hope), I like colors and patterns and all forms of design. And music. And books. And dogs. And that doesn’t even touch on the things I hope I am. I hope I am creatively unique. I hope I am interesting, entertaining, kind, clever, etc. How could I answer that even in a sentence? Is there one thing that best defines who I am? Could there ever be? After thinking about this question for even 5 minutes I started to have a mini existential crisis, so then I stopped. But now I’ve started again… and probably so have you. Good luck with that.

I’m trying to grow out my hair, but it is slow going. When my hair fell out after giving birth, it changed the texture of my hair and the weight balance went all wonky when all of the new growth sprouted and suddenly the top part of my head is now way thicker than any other part of my hair. Very confusing for styling and blow drying when 2 inch pieces of hair are shooting out all over my scalp. Like a clown wearing a bicycle helmet. Anyways, with the help of a hair mask and patience, my thickness is slowly returning and so is my length. I generally layer my hair up a lot for various maintenance reasons, but I have been waiting for my thickness to become a more all over thing and not just a top-of-my-head thing. It feels like I’ll have another baby and have all that hair fall out and have all that weird new growth happen before any of this new growth gets to a stage that is even halfway decent. TL;DR Nothing is every going to be the way it was and it’s going to take me 10 years to figure out how to navigate it all. Joy.

Friday Video: Are You The Wiggle King?

A perfect example of my marriage and how we are both 80 year old deaf people. Also Gabe cuteness for good measure. Happy Friday!

(PS. Best experienced with volume, so headphone it up if you can.)

Real Life Conversations: Baby Talk

Me: So when you “give Gabe a tour of the apartment” what does that mean?

Kamel: I show him around.

Me: Like what?

Kamel: [holding gabe in the other room while I make dinner in the kitchen] Welcome to the the San Mateo Historical Society tour of the Dupuis-Perez house.

Me: What?!

Kamel: The San Mateo Historical Society declared this place a national treasure in 2152 due to their…

Me: [laughing hysterically] oh my gosh.

Kamel: … incredibly contributions to society.

Me: Oh my god is this for reals?

Kamel: The Historical Society has painstakingly recreated a messy kitchen table to enhance the realistic nature of this museum based on video, internet, blog posts, and photographs.

Me: [laughing, laughing, laughing for days]

Kamel: You should hear how each room is described!

Me: Oh my god this is a blog post.

Kamel: No… Lauren!

Me: YES.

Kamel: Nooooo…

Me: Yup. Yup it is.

Real Life Conversations: Old Lady Underpants

I was resting on the couch yesterday while Kamel was making dinner. I had hit a wall earlier in the day after cleaning the apartment, doing laundry, and running errands. Pow pow pow productivity! When Kamel came out to check on me.

Kamel: You know… I really wish I had a big girdle…

I turned to look at him, waiting for the joke.

Kamel: … so that I could make tons of pancakes.

I thought for a second. Girdle. Girdle. Like, so he could eat more? And still keep his girlish figure? Why does the girdle have to be big? Maybe he is talking about a man-sized girdle? Like man-spanks? Where did he get the term girdle?

Then I had a light bulb moment, all while Kamel is looking at me expectantly for a response.

Me: You mean griddle? A flat service you cook things on?

Kamel: Yeah, what did I say?

Me: Girdle. Like the control top underpants my grandmothers used to wear.

Kamel: Don’t put this on the internet, Lauren.