Nobody Else But You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?”

A Year of Dates: February

Yesterday Kamel and I dropped the kids off at daycare and went up to the mountains to intertube in the snow!

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Going to the snow is something Kamel has wanted to do for months! And he had never gone intertubing! He was worried he would need a helmet. I explained that tiny children do this activity. He was not totally convinced.

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This was such an amazing date morning because it reminded me of our lives before we had kids, when we would do things we hadn’t done before. Things that maybe were a little scary. Like when we did rock climbing class! Or go explore a different part of the Bay Area. Being the people we were post kids is very much the best.

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It was grey and wintery but it was beautiful.

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And it was a little scary. Which was weird, because I don’t remember it being scary when I went before. I remember launching myself out onto the snow hill, intertube barely staying put underneath me, and zooming to an eventual stop. And loving it. This time as the intertube slipped over the edge of the snow bank, a little voice in my head cried out, “Nooo. Regret! I have regret!” Maybe this means I’m old. But having that possible near death experience with Kamel: awesome.

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January Date Night

Kamel and I are having a year of dates. One of his new year goals was to go on a date every month. I love this idea because I honestly don’t remember the last time Kamel legit planned a date for the two of us from start to finish all on his own. I mean, to be fair, I am excitable and have a tendency to take over on things I find fun…. but also Kamel like… seriously, to a fault, never plans dates. Not even this first one – which was my fault.

But is there ever really “fault” when one is actively doing something awesome for the relationship? No, I think not.

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For this first date we went classic: dinner out to somewhere we could never ever take the kids, to eat food that is 100% grownup, and to have the ability to sit quietly and enjoy a glass of wine without keeping the baby from stabbing herself with a fork and not having to ask for the check when we ordered just in case meltdowns occurred. MY GOD THE FREEDOM.

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I’ll have the cheese with a side of zoolander. Sorry, Kamel, I know I promised I wouldn’t post this anywhere.

We snagged a Lyft at 5:15 (Because we wanted to be home for bed time. I mean, we are lame parents after all. Let’s not get it twisted.) on a Sunday and headed to Re:Public. I know the manager and follow her on instagram and have been dying to scope out this adorable restaurant/bar. And by adorable I mean chic and adult and hip and somewhere that opens up it’s garage door front when it’s warm and you sit half in/half outside and you just NEVER want to leave on those amazing Seattle summer evenings that last for eternity.

The food was amazing. We had a cheese plate, because hello, and charcuterie. My friend hooked us up with champagne (as we are but sad, broken people who barely ever leave the house with real pants on), and we ordered a glass of wine. The entres were really excellent and the dessert was a tropical, coconut-y bread pudding that I wanted to swim in. I actually got to TALK to Kamel without being interrupted 5,000 times in the span of 1 full sentence, and it was fucking bliss.

A year of dates here we come! January handled.

Episode 3: Cheaters

Welcome to the first official episode about relationships with guest contributor, Kamel. He also happens to be my husband. This week we are talking about cheating! Specifically: Can someone actually go a solid amount of time without knowing that they are being cheated on? Can that actually happen?

Let me know what you think and who you agree with more by using the hashtags #teamLauren or #teamKamel.

It’s List Inception at This Point

I feel like all of my posts are update posts because I have so much to say and my brain is a humble jumble and all I can do is think in lists. So here I am updating you on things again. Feel free to ask me questions in comments (if you have wonderings, that is) because I am a scattered, headachey, infrequently showered lump.

1.) Speaking of lumps. I feel like a giant bag of loose skin. Working out has paused as I have handled a very strange, two week long cold. A cold that had no clear path, but went from feeling like shit to sort of sore throaty, to snotty (but not too snotty), to MAYBE cough-y, to snotty again, to only snotty at night, to a little bit cough-y at night? It was two weeks of, “is this over yet, I’m pretty sure it’s over but … nope, not over.” And that has left me with the blob body from the black lagoon partnered with no drive to remedy it. (I’ll get to you body, I will… in time.)

2.) Speaking of TIME… Kamel is on his last week of leave, the kids are in school, we are home together alone. BOW CHIKKA BOW- more like he rearranged the whole bookshelf/blu-ray collection? While I sat on the couch in yesterdays sweatpants and nursing tank forgetting to pump and writing/editing away on my laptop? And then he went to Target where there was only one tree stand left and it missing a box and all the parts were willy nilly so he didn’t get it and just came home? All while old seasons of Greys Anatomy played in the background? These are not questions, these are facts… but do the question marks make us less lame? Don’t answer that.

3.) I need to write a post about Gabriel. REMEMBER HIM? My first born? You know… that one kid who is now a giant and drives me insane while simultaneously maiking me cry because awwwww Gabriel! He is the worst and the best and those two feelings happen within minutes of each other and sometimes it is very confusing whether I want to shake him until the shitty falls out or cradle him like a baby and let my tears of love and joy rain down upon his cherub face. So in case you’re wondering how toddler land is – toddler land with the added bonus of infant land – it’s basically making me insane. I’ll get into it soon.

4.) My hair is still falling out. My hair line is thin and receding. My baby hairs on my temples are prominent but at the same time so very sad and thin. I’m starting to resemble an inbred monarch. My hair is also fluffy and dumb. The worst worst worst symptom of making humans is upon me. I’ll be bitching about it for the next two years, I apologize in advance.

5.) Oh, also – I want to do a reader survey about beauty items and lotions and junk. Here is why: I always ask what you guys are using, what the best BB/CC cream is you have found, what is your favorite dry skin lotion for winter, yadda yadda, and you tell me and unless I buy it RIGHT THEN…. I forget. And I really would love to have something like that all in one place. Especially with the holidays upon us and future gift cards raining down upon us all (hopefully). I’ll publish any notable findings. So stay tuned.

Over and out.

4th Anniversary: Fruit and Flowers

We spent our 4th anniversary like this:

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And a little bit like this:

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This year of marriage has probably been our hardest. I don’t know if Kamel feels that way, but I definitely do. I wasn’t interested in the compromise of marriage. Marriage is work on a personal level. Loving your partner is not the hard part, it’s being constantly capable of considering another person, being willing and able to put them first. There were lots of times in the last year where I didn’t feel willing to do that, where I was spread too thin, where I really wanted to just stomp away and slam the doors and say I Don’t Want To. And there were plenty of times where I didn’t necessarily feel taken care of the way I needed to be. There were times where our buddy system failed both of us.

There was a lot of life work happening this year. Saving for a house, dealing with employment stress, sacrificing personal and family time to support Kamel’s career, managing a very strict budget to support my time at home at the end of this pregnancy, and the general realities of parenting a toddler. It was a lot of work.

And most of the year was spent creating a new family member – no easy feat.

This year was not a bad year even though it was hard. It was a growing year, a double down and push through it year, a real talk year. And it ended with the birth of our daughter, the completion of our family, and the ability for Kamel to take a week off where he wasn’t even a little bit “working from home.”

Kamel is my favorite person and my best partner. He is the greatest dad and the person I want and need most to take care of me when I am at my lowest.

Year 4 is fruit and flowers, beautiful ripening growth. The promise of new life and rebirth. It sounds so much more frivolous than it actually is.

For Kamel,

Here is a peach: for all of the peaches, served on a tiny toddler spoon, we fed Gabriel this year.

Here is a lily: for the flowers you got me for mother’s day.

Here are 700 watermelons: for all of the chili lime melons you made me while pregnant (even chopping off the super seedy bits and taking extra care to give me all the best pieces).

Here is a daisy: for all of the flowers Gabriel has picked for us this spring and summer, something you taught him to see and appreciate.

Here is our daughter: for the best flower and the best fruit of the year, something we grew together.

Here is to many many more years of work and growth and triumph and loving you with all of me every single day (even when I hate you).

The Catch Up

Fae Lira was born!! I am no longer pregnant, and that was exactly the first words out of my mouth after she sprang forth from my womb. (Imagery right there, folks. Like maybe she had a top hat and a cane and she did a little jig? TA DAAAAA!)

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How that all came to be will be a story for next week because, guess what? Having 2 kids is way harder than having just 1. Like … holy shit what did we do what were we thinking, I GUESS THIS IS OUR LIFE NOW.

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Fae is the best and Gabe is the cutest big brother but I seem to never have any free hands and my laundry just tripled.

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Also! It was Kamel and my anniversary yesterday! And I didn’t even have a hot second to write my usual post about it or get him a card or … anything. So that will be happening later today. One day late isn’t so bad. And maybe I can even be thoughtful about it now that I have successfully gotten Fae to sleep on the boppy and not just in the arms of Kamel or I.

I’ve been going around and around and around with how I want to continue (how or IF) with this blog. I feel sort of out of touch even having a blog nowadays. Like everyone is doing tumblr or microblogging on instagram only. And do I even have time for this? If you look at the posting history lately I think that answer is a no. But also I don’t want to abandon this space. This is a good space to have and hopefully a good space to visit. I’m not ready to toss it away. So I’m hoping to get writing done in batches, get caught up on the week when I can and schedule some content. I’m hoping for 3 posts a week and if there are more than wahhooo! I have so much to write about, so many things I’ve wanted to get to, so many events that I have missed talking about already, that I feel like I’m falling waaaayyyy behind. But I’ll catch up, I’ll get there. Even if not in real time, I’ll make it happen … somehow.

Date Nights and Chore Wheels

Two questions have been asked of me at least a few times and I’ve sort of put off answering them because I thought the answers were boring. Except I love peering into all of the nooks and crannies of other people’s lives, so maybe I should just get over myself, hm?

The first question that’s been racketing around is about couple time and date nights. 

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(Last summer, afternoon canoeing sans baby.)

How do we find time to do this? Do we have a schedule? Budget? Timeline?

We kind of don’t. I think it would be easier in life if we did. But! Having too many things set in stone stresses me out. Even if it was a standing date night with a babysitter every other week, I feel all claustrophobic about it. I can barely get Gabe through a 10 week swim class that meets every Saturday for an hour. The routine of it makes me feel SHACKLED. I’m very complicated and demanding.

When it comes to date-dates we have them in fits and starts. There may be several months of very busy weekends, filled with have-tos and obligations that are not necessarily bad, but don’t allow for us to run off alone. Maybe there will be a few family events, some solo time for each of us – Kamel has a work event or runs off to watch a late movie he has been jonesing over. Maybe I have a few lady’s nights planned, a friend’s birthday or we’ve been invited to a barbecue. Who knows. We aren’t immensely social but living back home has its social demands. Or maybe we just need to go to Target 200 times and the shower needs a scrubbing and we want to go to the zoo or the park with the rocky beach or or or. Family time is just as precious to me as date time. In the world of two working parents and tiny weekends, getting to be together the 3 (soon 4) of us is special too.

But then there will be a string of weeks, maybe even a weeknight dinner thrown in there, where we do manage to schedule a movie, or a dinner, or an adult only evening out. We’re actually having Gabe spend his FIRST overnight at grandma and grandpa’s without us on Tuesday to prep for #2’s arrival tomorrow. Kamel and I are running off to Snoqualmie Falls and spending a night in a hotel. This will be our first overnight in a hotel without the baby since our anniversary last July.

That is extravagant (though, mid-week 1 night hotel stays are way cheaper than weekend! And a fun recharge to take 2 days off midweek esp when vacationing is not happening as much as you’d like), but in general our outings involve a meal or an activity – Boeing tour, renting canoes from the university, ultrasound appointments with a side of Top Pot Donut (just kidding, sometimes Gabe comes to those). When I was working we also managed to meet for lunch 1-2 times a week because we worked close together. If this is something even remotely possible for you, I highly highly suggest making it happen. It makes the day so much more fun, gave me something to look forward to, and gave me regular snippets of alone time with my husband without having to come up with an activity or schedule a babysitter.

I still have issues asking people to watch my kid while we gallivant around town. Planning a movie takes a lot of forward thinking. Spontaneity has definitely taken a header. Sometimes I just don’t have the extra energy to muster the prep time it takes to 1) think of something to do 2) figure out what time would be best for everyone involved and then 3) run through my list of possible sitters trying to make it work with at least 1 person’s busy schedule. It’s really not fun for me to be like, “Hi… I know it’s your weekend too, but could you please watch my kid in 3 weeks so that Kamel and I can go watch a MOVIE?” It feels… strange. Kind of like asking permission, which rubs me all sorts of wrong.

But there you have it. We do date nights/activities properly at least once a season? Which sounds so little! But on average it is more like once every other month. Add into that any events that require a babysitter and I feel like we’re doing really well. How do you all navigate adult time?

The second question was brought up a-fresh a few weeks ago while I railed about hating men. (ha! MEN!) How do Kamel and I split chores? How do we balance it so that I am not the default chore wench?

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This took years to suss out. I mean YEARSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!! I have a certain standard of clean that Kamel doesn’t necessarily have. I mean, it also could be that his eyes are broken and his glasses create glare so he doesn’t see the dirt? or the grime? or the socks? on the floor? over there? right fucking over there can you just pick them up omg I’m going to kill you?

Who am I kidding, those are my socks.

We don’t actually use a chore wheel either, though I’m sure it is a totally useful tool. So that was a bit of false advertising.

The first thing we did when we moved in together was try to live in each other’s presence and still clean the house and do it in a polite way where we didn’t ask the other person to do anything but hoped things would get done anyway.

That didn’t work and ended in rage fights over swiffering.

The next thing we did was split the chores based on our general gross-out/delight factor. I love cooking, but cleaning up after makes me gag. Kamel doesn’t mind doing dishes and enjoys that the kitchen is his domain. He has probably never cleaned a bathroom in his life and my mama raised me right, so I took the bathroom. I hate garbages so that became his job. It eventually evolved into this system:

Lauren:

  • Laundry (something that never ends)
  • Bathroom(s)
  • The fish tank
  • The baby’s room

Kamel:

  • Dishes/kitchen (something that never ends)
  • Garbages
  • All floors (vacuuming, swiffering)

Shared:

  • General pickup

The other thing we had to work out was when these chores would take place. I hate having a to-do list hanging over my head. It ruins weekends. I am a huge advocate for getting chores out of the way. Spend a few hours on Saturday all going at it as a team, wham bam, everything is done (With the exception of some laundry stragglers) by the end of nap time and we can move on. Our second biggest struggle came with our disagreement on this tactic. Saturday mornings, after a long work week, Kamel didn’t FEEL like doing chores. He wanted to leisurely attack them as the mood would strike. So, I would finish my stuff while the rest of the house puttered around doing whatever. Then! The chores that we did together or Kamel’s would sort of get half-done, or not done at all because we would need to go do stuff and not just sit around the house for 2 days. OR I would be stuck killing time while Kamel tried to hurry up and finish something, it will just take him a minute, 1 hour later…

This made me hate him. It also made him hate me a little. Marriage: UGH.

Eventually, after a lot of fights and crying (yes real tears and real door slams and real stomping), we had a few successful Saturday morning everyone all in chore paloozas, which made the rest of the weekends fucking MAGICAL, and Kamel was swayed into the right direction (my direction, hellooooo).

Kamel often asks me to assist with stuff in the kitchen. 99% of the time I say no. If I gave in, I could easily slip into doing at least 80% of all the chores. Kamel has no problem asking for help, or asking if I will just handle something because he doesn’t feel like doing it. I have absolutely no problem saying no. If I said yes, then I would be doing a ton of stuff and I wouldn’t have time to write or read or sit there staring into space. I would be running about and I would hate my husband. I don’t want to resent him, I have no interest in being a martyr, so I say no. He never has to worry about running out of underwear or shirts, I don’t have to worry about cleaning up after baking a cake.*

I stand on the soapbox of: grassroots change in gender dynamics. If I want more equality in the big picture, I need to make it happen in my own house. No one pulls the short straw, we are all in it to win it.

Kamel is not “Helping me” by cleaning. He is taking responsibility for his part in the care of where we live. He is not “doing me a favor” by washing dishes. He eats off the same forks and plates that I do.

Kamel is not “babysitting” our child. He is parenting.

This is not to say I don’t appreciate when he solo parents so I can go off running amok with my friends. We take each other’s alone time seriously. Kamel can schedule a time to go watch a movie in theaters solo. He has evenings once the baby goes to sleep to play video games or work on whatever he wants to do. I try and schedule time where I take Gabe out of the house to visit friends or family and give Kamel alone time. He never tells me no if I have plans to not be home in the evenings. If I need to go hide in the bedroom after dinner to finish working on something, he 100% supports that. He was more than enthusiastic in his support for my week long Minnesota trip to attend a writing conference.

But back to chores: I probably would clean the dishes more thoroughly than Kamel would. Not that they aren’t clean, but I would do it differently. In order to remain married and not crazy, I do not oversee his chores. I am not in the kitchen when he is doing his thing. If the plates smell and we need a new sponge, I let him know. If I am noticing the garbages in the bathroom are full, I let him know. But I do not stand in the kitchen telling him he missed a spot. And I would. If I were in there, I would absolutely be asking him to do things differently or stepping in and doing it myself. So out of sight, out of mind. He doesn’t need a parent, and I have other things I would rather be doing.

We finally have a really excellent chores groove going. 4 years married in 9 weeks, and I think we really got this down maybe a year ago? How do other people navigate this? Did it come easy to you?

*To be 100% fair and honest, while pregnant I am the one who needs more help and I ask freely. I am not functioning on all cylinders while pregnant and my abilities become less and less depending on how sick I am, how physically capable I am, etc. So Kamel may help me fold in the evenings or he may help me hang up clothes in regards to laundry. But mentally, he does not ever have to be in charge of this task, and once I’m no longer pregnant, things will go back to even-stevens in the chore department.