Episode 18: Frankenstein

This is the second episode of the season, but the first with a reader driven question. For some reason this struck a defensive nerve with Kamel and I even though we actually do an excellent job.

The question from the reader:

My biggest fear about having kids is that it will drastically and negatively alter my relationship with my partner. My question is: Does it? How do you deal with that? How do you maintain a strong, meaningful relationship with your partner after kids (especially little kids)?

And because I feel like this episode is a total mess and we may absolutely fail at actually answering the question, here are some bullet points – real world things we actually do to accommodate each other despite our children.

  • Guilt free time alone. Whether that is a movie or shopping or needing to hide in the bedroom to write (me). It is so important to gift your partner 100% resent-free space to still be a human. I think whether you have kids or not this is pretty major.
  • Being willing to take the kids places by yourself in order to give your partner space at home by themselves. This is different than the going out and about first bullet point. Because we all need to sit around in our sweats and not have to justify it. We all need to take long showers and paint our nails or finish a book or whatever, without being pestered.
  • Date nights and babysitters. Have many. Use them. It’s hard to use them, I know from experience. It is hard to ask for that. But it is SO AWESOME when you do and you leave the house together, without children, and then it’s like all you see are rainbows shooting out of each other’s eyes.
  • Ultimately be a team. Have inside jokes away from the kids. Steal their treats in the kitchen together behind your toddler’s back. Share knowing looks. Make out during nap time. Share a glass of wine after a successful bedtime. Celebrate each other. Be kind.

If anyone else has their own married-with-kids tips and tricks please comment. I will steal them all.

When The Kids Wake Up Early

When the kids wake up early but they have both slept through the night it is the opposite of this. It reminds you of why you love the mornings the most and why you love living in the city. Death to suburbs. The city will always be where things are most authentic.

There is something about walking down a street filled with bars and restaurants and your shadow and the few shadows around you are long, but not because it is so late, but because it is so early. Just a few hours before this moment, the street was filled with people, buzzing people, looking for their ubers and lyfts, pressing each other against grimy buildings, limping in shoes that are too high and too tight and too fabulous. The flick of cigarettes and the under arm sweat from a stuffy bar or a busy dance floor being blown away by the night breeze. The honking horns and the yelling after friends or enemies, the vibration of strangers bouncing off of each other. There is something about walking along those streets in the early morning with just a few people within ear shot, just a few cars on the streets where there used to be many. The energy from all of that buzzing lingers in the quiet with the long shadows. If you stand still and put your hands out and close your eyes, you can feel it there, pulsing.

I love the city so much.

And I know it all happened because it was a beautiful night in Seattle, with a warm breeze after a hot, clear-skied day. And those nights here are more than electric. They make you forget every other annoying thing about this place. The long summer days that turn into summer nights while the sun is still up are worth anything and everything, you think. Even if that can’t possibly be true.

When the kids wake up early, but they are happy, and there is sunshine through the windows making everything yellow, and there is Brandi Carlile coming through the speakers it makes you want time to stop forever. We’ll just live here, in this morning, in this day forever and ever and be happy.

When the kids wake up early they go down easily for an early nap. And you get to linger in the shower, which didn’t happen until 12:30, and truthfully that isn’t even that bad. You make sure to get a new razor before shaving your legs and you even try out a new moisturizer. You stand in your closet naked and damp and think about what to wear. Do you even own summer clothes? They have to be in here somewhere. And you have time to flick through the closet, finding that maxi dress you completely forgot you even had, because the kids are sleeping soundly. You have all the time in the world.

This is so much better than leggings and a t-shirt, you think. I should do this more often, you think.

Sometimes you get a babysitter just because you should really do that more often, and you make plans with your partner to go spend the day outside, doing outside things in this beautiful summer weekend. (Can you even believe how fantastic this weather is?) But instead you go to a bar and sit on their patio with sunglasses pushing your hair back and you both eat tacos and drink micheladas at 3 in the afternoon like you’re so unburdened. You’re so free you don’t even know what to do with yourselves. It’s sickening and it’s fantastic.

When the kids wake up early and you don’t even mind because you’ve slept, your partner sometimes muses, “I think that consistent sleep might be even better than sleeping in.” And you think, “oh my god, duh,” but you say, “For sure.” And nod in agreement.

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).