Last Night

Fae started a habit of waking up at 1am. At first we indulged it because new house and new stuff and waking up not knowing where you are is the worst. At first you always indulge it. But then you start wondering what the hell is actually going on, why is my 14 month old waking up at all, please go back to sleep for the love of god.

So now we just ignore her. She puts herself back down in a few minutes, but it’s been more than a week of ignoring her and still she wakes up and cries. I hear her, I check the time. Anything before 430 and I’m not moving. I mentally pat myself on the head that everything is fine and she’ll be fine and then I go back to sleep.

Now when the babies cry out in the night I have a hard time figuring out if its Gabriel or Fae. Is it words? Or babbly? Is it a baby whine or is it the long drawn out “maaaaamaaaaaaaaaaaaa” that I’m hearing? Is it Gabe? It’s Gabe. We always go in with Gabe. I poke Kamel to wake up.

“It’s Gabe.”

“Is it?”

“I think so.”

We both pause.

“…maybe he went back to sleep?”

We wait. Nope. There it is. Kamel rumbles out of bed. I lay still and listen. Mumbles, whines, footsteps.

“He says he asked for you.”

Damnit. 

I rumble out of bed after Kamel. We both stand in Gabe’s room. He is half a sleep and doesn’t know what he actually needs or wants. We stand there, doing nothing, just being next to him, listening to his breath. When I hear that he is asleep I count to 90, then I whisper to Kamel that I’m going to go first and he should stay in case the creaky floor outside Gabe’s door wakes him up. I say it in less words between lips that are barely moving.

I mentally pat myself on the back for remembering where to step to avoid making much noise. Like I live here or something.

I crawl back under the covers, but the sheets are already cold. We haven’t turned the heat on yet but the nights have been dipping down into the 40s.

I lay still and listen.

I hear Kamel try and leave but he steps in the wrong spots and the floors creak and Gabe is startled awake. I hear whining and then footsteps.

“Hi mama,” Gabe says.

I pull the covers back so he can snuggle in between us.

“Snuggle me,” he says.

I wrap my arm around his tiny body. So small in our adult world of giant torsos. Gabe is at least 60% legs and one of my arms can wrap all the way around him at least a time and a half. Maybe more.

Gabe is good at sharing the bed as long as he doesn’t go horizontal. He falls asleep fast and I still have plenty of room on my side. But my sleep from that point on is full of bad dreams. Full of planning for future stuff I’m not looking forward to. Full of tossing and turning and hoping I don’t wake him up.

At 4:30 Fae wakes up for reals. Kamel goes and gets her and I run downstairs to make her a bottle and grab the blanket off the couch so Kamel can feed her upstairs, out of our bed, and still be warm. After her bottle she goes back into her crib, but hates it. She eventually puts herself down and I have to wake her up at almost 7am. Gabe is up at 6, but he is so happy. He is so sweet. He flips on the light to our bedroom and I hide under the covers.

“Oh, sorry, mama! I’m hungry, let’s go.”

I’m never rested, but it’s so good anyway.

Episode 27: 2,400 Square Feet

We are back in podcast land!!!

I don’t have a ton to say about this one. We break down the move experience and the hustle that happened right at the very end. We also discuss how the transition has been on us. Hint: Hard on me. But you knew that.

Sometimes it is really hard to admit that something you think you should be stoked about, something everyone expects you to be excited about is just… hard.

Thursday

1.) My day started off at 5am, cuddling Fae.

2.) Everyone was showered and dressed by 6:30, when we had to wake up Gabriel.

3.) Why do toddlers become a screaming pile of irrational bullshit right before you need to leave the house?

4.) Why do they look at you 5 minutes later after you’ve wrestled everyone into the car and are sweating like, “why are you pulling out your hair, mama? Want a yogurt snack?”

5.) We bought a treadmill and it arrived today. In a box.

6.) The delivery man did not knock or ring my doorbell. He left it out front and snuck away.

7.) I cannot lift the box to bring it inside. Kamel has a hernia, he cannot lift the box either. Thankfully, this means that thieves probably can’t lift the box. Otherwise, why would they need a treadmill? This feels like some kind of ironic torture.

8.) Yesterday at bedtime Gabe said his ear hurt, which is pretty random since we were just looking at the moon.

9.) Maybe the reason my child is a mess is because he has a secret ear infection. He also has a cold. This could be a real possibility, making me mother of the year for the 3rd year in a row.

10.) On top of the fact that I am drowning in work, I now need to take my kid to the doctor (and my other kid bc she can’t drive) during rush hour. It’s going to be great!

Wednesday

I did promote that this week we would be fully back with print and podcast! But – as my post headings infer, we’re getting through this big move and transition and schedule change and and and – one day at a time. So here we are. No podcast. I had plans, but they didn’t make it to fruition. Soon though, soon.

Wednesday is about Gabriel.

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The older kids get, the more your heart breaks for them, because being human is hard and cruel and they still don’t know it and you never want them to. But they sense it. They get whispers of it. And it is confusing.

Gabriel is goofy and loving. He is imaginative and earnest. He is careful and nervous. He loves his sister. He is annoyed by his sister. He watches over her and teaches her things and plays with her and wants to get away from her and wants her to stop playing with his toys. He shares with her, he comforts her, he shows her things. He includes her.

“Fae. Faaaaeeeeee. Look Fae! Look at this! See?”

Gabriel is also annoying. He whines. He demands. He throws tantrums. He is defiant. He is stubborn. He is crazy in the way toddlers are crazy. If something doesn’t happen the way he expects, he is difficult. He repeats an act 5 times until he is satisfied that you have seen him do it the way he wants you to see him do it.

He sings his own made up songs that are narrating his life. He dances. He shows me his dances 700 times a day. He sings along to songs in the car.

He requests snuggles. With blankets. Before he gets up in the morning he asks, “Can I snuggle with mama in mama’s bed?” But lately it’s changed. “Can I snuggle with mama in our bed?” Yes. Always. Every day.

He doesn’t like to be rushed in the mornings. This reality is hard for everyone to deal with. He gets upset if we have to do something RIGHT NOW. He will freeze and do nothing if you get mad at him. It is not an effective way to handle Gabriel. Flexibility, softness above sternness, listening, patience – these are the things that Gabriel needs, these are the things Gabriel has taught me.

The transition to a new home and a new school has been a lot for him and he is doing so well. He is also being extra difficult. Extra frustrating, extra annoying. But also, my heart breaks for him. He has no control. He just wants a little control, but he has none. Everything is new, the rules have all changed, his little brain is grasping at straws.

At Gabriel’s old school he was very much loved. People there had known him since he was 10 months old. So when annoying little boy things start to develop (As they do in every child. We can’t all stay sweet sweet 18 month olds forever), I know that they had already been charmed by him. This new school, that is not the case. They get a Gabriel that is trying to figure out what they are saying to him (Spanish immersion), while navigating new friends, a new classroom layout, and new expectations. He also has a cold and a cough that is keeping him from napping. I see all the things these new teachers could see: He refuses to eat most of his lunch, he doesn’t nap well, he is whiny and difficult, he doesn’t feel like doing the art projects and instead decides to sit quietly and cut up the paper, when you’re giving him a direction sometimes he interrupts you and does a silly dance and then asks you to watch him doing the silly dance 5 times.

I see all of the good and all of the bad and I hold my breath on his behalf that he is liked and loved and finds friends and is happy. But even if he was the most trouble and the most annoying, which he is not, but even if he was an absolute terror, I would still feel complete heartbreak if people didn’t like him.

When I feel the urge to apologize for his inconvenience (and don’t) the words that are swirling in my head are this: You have to know and understand how much I love him. Please be kind to him, because I love him. Please be gentle with him, because I love him.

It sounds so… simple and shallow. But it is so deep. His hurt is my hurt. His discomfort is mine. Except I feel it a million times more in my attempt to absorb the impact.

Monday

We have completely changed our morning routine and I really thought it was maybe killing me. Every morning we would leave the house in a TORNADO OF PANIC. That cannot not be in all caps. The TORNADO OF PANIC included the entire neighborhood waking up to the shrill sounds of my voice at 7:15 telling Gabrile to “Get into the car! We do not have time for this!” and “Kamel, are you coming?? What are you doing in there?” It included Lauren the Aggressive Driver trying to race to daycare drop off in time to race to Kamel shuttle drop off and then race back home in time to not be late for my work day. I am generally not a road rage person, but the TORNADO OF PANIC demands a certain amount of swearing and audible sighs and rhetorical questions like, “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!” before 7:45am.

Leaving the house every day feeling like my heart and head were going to simultaneously explode (and NOT with confetti) because of stress is not a sustainable life choice. What the hell had I done? This new scheduled SUCKED for me. My day is now chauffeur, project manager/editor/juggling word smith [insert circus music], and stereotypical frazzled mom of two.

Guess who was rolling into daycare in sweats with bed head? ME. Guess who had previously judged moms who roll into school/daycare in sweats with bed head? ME ME ME. And now I know, you guys. NOW I FUCKING KNOW. The reason they roll in in sweats and bed head? It’s because they are sacrificing any amount of quiet morning moments where they can put on, oh I don’t know – PANTS so that everyone else is dressed appropriately. Those are martyr sweatpants, bitches. Except no, not even. Not even martyrdom. Just like, we all have to be out the door at a certain time and unless we all want to wake up at 4am, guess my pants putting on time is forfeit on the rough days. So far they have all been rough days.

Except today was ok. I put on jeans and a pseudo-fashionable sweater over my pajama tank top. And maybe I didn’t actually have a bra on, but hey! PANTS. And I was shocked to find the PANIC TORNADO missed my house this morning. I did not feel immense pressure and anxiety as I drove through residential-land. I did not swear or feel the urge to mow down other drivers. I actually chatted to Kamel about something other then, “Are we going to make it? How much time? Well if I turn here does that shave off a minute?” It was a good morning.

Did you hear that? We had a good morning! Everyone arrived on time and I was home with tea in hand and I had 5 minutes to write this post. Wins, gotta count em all.

Returning Soon! But First a Status Update

The podcast and the blog have fallen silent because I am in a deep dark transition hole.

You guys. Moving has been so hard. And the move itself was probably the easiest move Kamel and I have ever had together. We are pros at this packing thing. The movers arrived and we had the entire apartment cleaned out and all of our belongings (except for the pans under the stove, whoops, and the wall mirror behind our bedroom door – extra whoops) in 12 hours. And everything was ok. I was ready to get out of there, all I wanted was to get into our house and start settling in and setting up. The kids were with my parents overnight and we were focused and pumped for unpacking, rebuilding furniture, finding our life again.

And it was all good, I felt progress, we were humming along. Until I didn’t feel that way anymore.

Once the kids got home I realized just how big this space is. And this sounds initially like “my tiara is just too shiny!” but, that’s not it. You have to understand that my family has been spending it’s entire existence in a space that is the same size as our current den. There were never any stairs, there was only 1 exit, if I shut all of the doors to the bedrooms and the bathroom I was never more than three wide strides away from my bolting kids or a fallen toddler. We cooked, we ate, we played, we snuggled all in the same space. And now we have a 2,000 square foot house. With an upstairs, two living rooms and three exit points. The kids got home and the family SCATTERED. How do you cook dinner and keep the 3.5 year old from running out the front door? When he can open locks and open doors and we don’t have enough baby proofing – you can’t. How do you manage their transitional feels while also needing to find pajamas and where are the paper towels? And do you remember where we packed the baby shoes?

It’s herding cats and narrowly avoiding 3 alarm fires and feeling like I’m drowning drowning drowning 95% of the time. All while working. All while supervising light construction and maintenance. All while trying to do laundry and find my bras and oh shit the kids have no clean pants for school. I am generally very orderly. I know where everything is and everything has a system. Except here. Not yet. There are no systems, only surviving. Only 50 million trips up and down the stairs. Only hour long bedtimes to get Gabe down. Only dinners frantically made with the 2 pans I can find and thank god for yogurt snacks. Thank god we’re 5 minutes from a target.

As Kamel and I manage the daily things, the working and the feeding and the dressing, we are also trying to manage our kids’ transition. We started them at a new daycare that is Spanish immersion and I know its hard for Gabe. He is exhausted. So many things he is figuring out and learning. And I worry about them so much. He says he misses his friends. He names them. I feel so guilty. Is this the right thing for them? It cut down their time in the car from 45 minutes to 7. It gives us an even better chance of creating bilingual kids – a major goal of ours. But I still worry. Is he sad? He was at the same daycare since he was 10 months. Is this what he needs? I trust that it is, but I worry anyway.

All the while Kamel and I are not giving any attention to our own transitioning. This is hard. We have new routines on top of a new house on top of the dysfunction of having everything you own scattered about in boxes. I am so tired. I am never not tired. I am painting on my lunch break. I am dropping the kids off and picking them up. Running out the door late because a work call ran long. Our bedroom is a mind-field of half unpacked boxes and piles of clothes.

It will get better. We’ll get things unpacked and find our way. But in the mean time I am scattered and sad and tired and I have no more output. This is the year of running on empty. Somehow I’m still doing all the things, though my enthusiasm wains and my attention span is minimal. I forget plans and schedules, to do lists and tasks I genuinely intended to complete. This can’t keep up. When and how does the recharging happen? I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

Episode 26: The Shower Debate

Sometimes I begin a podcast thinking we’ll have something poignant to say and then it devolves into arguments over having time to make eggs for breakfast and taking long showers. This is one of those times

As a follow up – this morning Kamel got up at 530 and got showered and dressed before the kids got up. I also got up at 530 and prepped a bottle for Fae in case she woke up before 6 and I wouldn’t have to scramble. The kids chilled in their room until a little after 6:00. It was a great morning where everyone got to eat breakfast. Success!

Fae Lira is Baptized

In June we had Fae baptized and it was such a fantastic day. Being home and part of this community is something I didn’t always know was going to be possible. We were also lucky enough to have Kamel’s parents fly in for the weekend, so it was an all-family affair.

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Claire Jesse and Fer Ruiz de Corona are Fae’s godmother’s, but Fer couldn’t join as she was in Mexico. Claire did a great job representing them both.

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I’m a huge fan of getting a photographer for big life moments so that no one has to be in charge taking photos and everyone can be included. Aimee Tayag, an old high school yearbook friend of mine who is now a photographer (and who also has just recently had her very own baby girl) was gracious enough take these lovely photos of the event! If you are in the Seattle area, I highly recommend her. She is super reliable and lovely to work with.

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Thank you to everyone who came to make this day exceptionally lovely and special. The community at St. Joes in Seattle has been so incredibly lovely and welcoming. I love continuing to grow this aspect of our family.

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(Gabriel’s godmother, Kathleen, up at the front with Gabe as he watched his sister get baptized.)

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Fae Lira! You did it!

Fae’s First Year: The Video

I am so late to this! But at least it is still July? A video of Fae’s first year. [All the heart eyes! All of them!] Ps. Gabe was SO LITTLE when she was born. It breaks me into a million pieces.

Things, July

This month is kicking my butt. I have no extra time and no extra money. I am late on getting Fae’s birthday video (coming soon) and showing you some photos from her baptism (coming soon). I had to skip a podcast week because we just couldn’t find the time to record and I have no more banked episodes (fail). I am drowning. Again. Even more. Next week is worse. Doctor appointments and dentist appointments and more more more.

There are some good things though. I have seen my best friends almost every weekend, and during the week for nearly a month now, and it will be this way well into September. Wedding events for Claire, Fae’s birthday, brunches, babysitting, drinks on rooftops, shopping excursions, and on and on. This is a big reason why I moved home. I am so happy to be living in the same place as my people.

I’m annoyed at my body. Not to the point where I can’t get dressed, I just don’t have time for that bullshit to be honest. But, I’m mad that I workout regularly, indulge rarely, and yet still… the postpartum stomach pooch, the thickness in the middle that is making clothes shopping so hard, the stubborn lbs that won’t come off. I’m just so frustrated. And I know that yes, I could restrict my diet further, I could be hungrier, I could. But fuuuuck, I just don’t want to more than I am. I really don’t. And part of me is totally ok with that. And the other part of me like… it’s been a year. Why can’t I shake these last 5 lbs? And even if I did, I’m sure I would still have this skin bulk right in my middle that makes dress shopping so frustrating, that makes muffin top pants so so so annoyingly real, that makes my workouts seem pointless. ERGH.

I have next week’s podcast all planned out, but I would very much like some topic suggestions. If you have a question, that is awesome! Email me at birlpodcast@gmail.com or betterinrealife@gmail.com, but even if you don’t have a question and just want to hear Kamel and I debate/discuss something, let me know in comments. My inspiration well is running a tad bit dry with all of the life stuff swirling around us.

Fae is transitioning out of the baby room and is headed into the “waddler” room. Like she’s no longer a real baby anymore or something. Not a fan of this thought process. Will she always seems so so little to me? Is that how youngest children work? Because the oldest is also little, but the littler one is SUPER little. Is that what they mean when they say, “You’ll always be my baby”? I wonder what her first word will be. It might be “ow” to be honest…

I want THINX underpants!!! I just haven’t gotten my shit together enough to spend $30 a pair on them!! This is me yelling at myself about it!! After having Gabriel nothing really changed with my period, even though I had heard that having babies can make your period heavier. But after having Fae – I leak through super tampons like they aren’t even there. (TMI, sorry, I warned you too late.) I end up wearing an annoying horrible pad for at least 3-4 days because at any given moment I can just spring a damn leak. So instead I want period underpants! But $30! A pair! My underpant plight is constant and ongoing. There is no justice.

Everyone is going on vacations. I see it all over the internet. I am not. I desperately wish I was. That is all.

I have been at home and not in an office since May of 2015. Isn’t that weird? I have always worked. And I mean, I am working, full time, but I’m just here, on my coach. Maybe it would feel less like I’m just sitting around in my underwear if I was sitting around in my underwear at a desk, in an office. But for now I am on my couch, being professional as shit, without a bra on, feeling waves of impostor syndrome wash over me. And not going on any vacations.