Things, February

Buying a house is on the horizon. It has me scrutinizing finances and obsessing over zillow. Lately Kamel and I have been having a lot of future talks. The last few years have felt like they were riding us and we weren’t so much riding them. Our life was in fate’s hands to a certain degree. And isn’t it always? But we are craving some control back. Where will we spend our money? How and where will we spend our time? What do we want our lives to look like? We have made some big decisions about travel for 2017 and 2018. I know, I know… YEARS away, but it gets to a point where spontaneity is rare, and absolutely non existent when it comes to large purchases with small children. I know for sure that I want our lives to have more family adventures in them, kids and all. I look at our Maine vacation video and it feels so incredibly far away. But money and time and time and money and making choices that leave some things out, that probably piss off some people, but that include aspects of life that make us feel whole. It’s always a choice.

Sometimes I look at this apartment and think: we can’t possibly leave it, we can’t possibly pack all of this with two kids and move and unpack and oh god that is so overwhelming. Most of the time, though, I think: we can’t possibly stay here.

The more I work and do the jobs I do the more I feel and think and moan: I need to be running something, I need to be the point person, the lead. When is it going to be my time?

Sometimes there is so much I want to write and talk about on here and I can’t. It creates a quiet space when I want it to be loud, loud, LOUDER. Not everything is appropriate for the public. Not everything needs to be said. Even though the desire to write and discuss and share can feel overwhelming. I don’t know how true non-fiction writers do it. Every discussion I’ve ever heard about this struggle in non-fiction has ended with, “you just have to write it anyway.” But do you? Do you? For the benefit of what? I just don’t need that kind of drama or knowledge that I’ve embarrassed/hurt people in my life. No thank you.

That being said, I will say 1 thing. Opinions don’t always need to be shared. We live in a world of SHARE. Share your car, your apartment, your life, your mind, your words, share it all. Yet, sometimes… sometimes… it’s too much. It’s unnecessary, unneeded, and truly exhausting.  The way I choose to parent, the decisions I make in my life, the things I choose to go against the grain on or not think about it and flow with the main stream (see what I did there), happen whether I talk about them or not. Sharing what I do, how I feel, or my own opinions/criticisms of how other’s choose to parent/live/etc helps absolutely no one. It doesn’t change how I do me, it doesn’t change how you do you, but it does piss off and alienate people. In this corner of the mental space, we need less sharing. You do you, I’ll do me. If I have some insight to share on how I’ve done me that I think maybe other people may enjoy, I’ll fill everyone in. But there is no point in pushing and pushing and pushing however I think and feel on the masses who are just getting through their day. All it does is make me hate you. And I would so much rather not.

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The Air In Here

I had big plans today to write about multi-cultural books and our favorite bilingual books and link to a podcast that I guested on that went live last week! LAST WEEK! But…. I don’t have my shit together and I am still reeling from last week’s sickness and this week’s absolutely mind fuck of a work week where I am very literally exhausted by 1pm and I’m writing this on what is only Wednesday. What is a girl to do.

So today I’m writing about a small health obsession I have which I don’t feel like many people think about. I’m going to talk about it like none of you know what I’m talking about so if you already do, I apologize for being annoyingly condescending. To the rest of you: TAKE HEED.

In the northern hemisphere it is mostly cold right now. It’s been cold, it will be cold. The southern hemisphere will catch it too, but just like, 5 months from now. But even where it is hot out all of the time – I’m talking to you equator dwellers – this is also relevant to your interests. If your interests are health… which I hope is on everyone’s “to do list.” Today I will health and tomorrow and the next day. (Is what I assume everyone is thinking all of the time, right?)

What I’m getting at is: Indoor air pollution. It’s a problem. It’s one that we don’t think about because we just live our lives in our little abodes or in our office buildings with windows that don’t open. We shutter ourselves in from the cold or the oppressing heat and we sit. In stagnant air.

Here is a little exceprt from this article by the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

In the last several years, a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities. Other research indicates that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. Thus, for many people, the risks to health may be greater due to exposure to air pollution indoors than outdoors.

I am kind of obsessed with airing out my apartment. We need air! We need clean air! We need to recycle the air that is just chillin in my little boxy apartment, being inhaled and exhaled by all of these humans. The dusty air, the methaney air, the air that is just sitting here… collecting stuff.

I know our apartment doesn’t get great ventilation. I know this because I sit in it and I swelter all summer long with our 0 breeze and our convection-like brick exterior. So whenever it gets not bitterly cold or wet, I open all of the windows. I turn down the heat and I open our little house up. COME IN GOOD AIR, COME IN.

If you are interested in how to keep your apartment/house air on the up and up of quality – especially if you have teensy babies at home, especially if you have anyone who could be at risk for lung issues, check out this link from The American Lung Association. They offer a list of ways to keep air quality awesome.

And when you think of it, even when it is cold, open those windows up! Let the old air out and the new air in. Otherwise it’s like we’re bathing in your old bath water… for weeks or months! No! Don’t do it!

Things, January

I had big plans for last week and this weekend. Plans that included new photos and new stories and new adventures. But then we were hit with the yucks and the sicks. I sat by the toilet all day Wednesday in a bathrobe (after recording this week’s podcast of course) and suffered all night long, then was sick all Thursday. It was Kamel’s turn Friday night and then all day Saturday. On Sunday I completely lost my voice, but at least everyone in the house was able-bodied. And so far (please God, knock on ALL THE WOOD), the children haven’t started throwing up. The kids just have there never ending colds, the snot runneth over, the coughs I don’t even hear anymore. Is this part of the same virus or have they just started to layer? I sometimes ask myself. From December to April there is maybe, if we’re lucky, a 2 week period of time where everyone is healthy at once. But now that we have a 4th member of the germ-brigade, I think those 2 weeks are doubtful.

I don’t really know how this happened but this month, as we inch closer and closer to Gabe turning 3, Gabe has super turned a mood corner. He is so much fun! He is goofy and helpful and sweet and happy. He is also annoying and doesn’t listen and tunes me out like it is his LIFE’S WORK, but oh man he really is a joy. I keep looking at Kamel across the room and saying, “Three…. three’s going to be our year.” And then I scold myself a little bit for thinking anything at all lasts. Even the good stuff is a phase, Lauren… but it doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy the shit out of it.

I can’t keep my house clean or picked up. I literally just folded baby clothes last night and I looked during bath time and their clothing bin is already filled up! I feel like we always need to vacuum even though we just did yesterday. There is always stuff on the kitchen table, I’m lucky if I see the kitchen counters cleared once a week, and there is always at least 2 burners with a pot or pan on them. The bathrooms always need a scrub because I only ever have time to wash them in pieces. The sinks and the mirrors one week, the toilets the next, etc. There will never be a day where I will be able to keep more than 2 bathrooms clean. My hands are always full of baby in one form or another. Or I’m doing the other 5,000 things I need to be doing. Picking up toy cars, refilling wipes, setting out clothes for the kids for the next day or bedtime, oh and the working. The working that has me staring at all of the house things I don’t have time to do because I’m working from home. And the working is hands on, must be present, must be sitting at my computer 8 hours a day – WORKING. The other big part of this is that we need a bigger place. We don’t fit here anymore. There aren’t places to put everything and the places for the things that do have a home are too small. We are bursting at the seams. I hate it.

Kamel and I are going on a date this Friday. What! The last time we went on a date-date, like out to a dinner in a fancy way date, was… when I was pregnant… and we were testing out a new babysitter. I’m trying to remember the month…. but I can’t for the life of me. I remember where we went! And we were like “we should come here more!” and then we never went anywhere ever again. Until this Friday! I even made reservations somewhere! We have plans to go on a date once a month! So look for highlights in future posts.

This spring and summer is going to be exceptionally busy. We have a trip to visit family in Miami in April, Fae’s first birthday in July, her baptism in August, two weddings in the fall which mean wedding events in the summer. Lots and lots going on. My brain has already moved on to sunnier days and trying to brainstorm outfits for all of these things. Maybe I should finally buy a bra first and throw away all of the nursing tanks I have been exclusively wearing first…

Weekending 37

This weekend was COLD! Which I love. I love seasons! I love the cold! I love the crispness! I love the snow! I even enjoy the rain. It doesn’t keep us inside, it just makes for more interesting adventures! And my god, this place is beautiful on those cold, crispy, clear days.

New Years for us was uneventful. More time at home with the kids, exploring beaches and play areas, running errands, trying to get Gabriel to eat other things besides yogurt. You know how it goes.

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(Not pictured…. unfortunately…. the massive cold and surprising (To Kamel… haha) SPLASH from that log)

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Things, November

Having Kamel home on paternity leave has been so nice. It has also been a lesson in the differences between “men out in the world with babies” and “women out in the world with babies.”

Exhibit 1: Kamel is in the grocery store. Checker is googly eyes mad-crazy at Fae. She then says “Stay at home dads are my weakness!” to Kamel. He replies, “Oh, I’m just on leave.” She says, “That’s like a whole MOVEMENT right now!”

I am at the grocery store with Fae. The most I get is “How old is he?” “Oh she’s ______ months.” And then I struggle to open the door and pull the stroller through while also carrying groceries by myself.

Exhibit 2: Kamel posts a photo of himself holding Fae while playing video games. Comments include heart eye emojis and “What an attentive dad!”

Exhibit 3: (This is with Gabriel and not during Kamel’s current leave, for the record) While changing Gabe’s diaper in a men’s room at a car dealership with no changing station, “I’m really sorry there are no changing stations in here. You’re doing a great job, man. I’ve got 6 kids at home. Keep it up.”

Me nursing Fae at the Zoo while it is pouring down rain. I am sitting off to the side, not blocking anything, minding my own business while Gabe and Kamel run around an exhibit. The sign on the door said, “Please no strollers because of crowds” and there was maybe 3 other people in the exhibit.

“Um excuse me, you can’t have your stroller inside any of the buildings.”

“Oh, yeah… I just have this one in the car seat.” (THE ONE ATTACHED TO MY NIPPLE)

“Yeah, everyone does. No strollers allowed in any of the buildings.”

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… Not impressed, Zoo. Not impressed.

Winter is so dark. How is it possible that I keep forgetting this? Thankfully it comes on the heels of twinkle lights and social events and cozy clothing and hot tea! My god, the hot tea. A cup of tea can just CHANGE a person, amIright? Other positive winter feels include: indoor open swim for Gabriel and Kamel, slippers, Christmas lists, secret santas, not sweating, winter ale, and those crisp sunny days.

Earlier this month I saw Gloria Steinem in conversation with Cheryl Strayed and I cried 4 times during the discussion. The biggest sob fest was when an older Asian woman came up to the microphone and thanked Gloria Steinem for being such a good friend to her and for coming into her garden on Whidbey Island and for breaking her isolation due to her language barrier. Water works for days. Things I learned from the discussion:

  • When the media freaks out about young women claiming they don’t need feminism, it’s kind of a joke. A 20 year old posting a sign on twitter does not take into account the millions of women who are 30+ actively living and preaching feminism in their daily life. It is a reminder that the world views women’s contributions as being only as good as their young, ripe bodies. The voice of feminism does not end at 29, does not end at menopause! Women get more radical with age.
  • Feminism is all encompassing. It includes gay rights, all civil rights, all equalities. Feminism is for everyone. People of color have always been at the forefront.
  • At times it feels like we are slipping backwards, but these conversations weren’t even happening 70 years ago. Do not despair.
  • The most important freedom is the freedom over our own bodies and our own reproductive rights. The choice of when and where and if to have children is a basic human right. It is a domino effect of all freedom.
  • (This I did not fully realize until this conversation) Women are still not equal under the law in the United States because the Equal Rights Amendment has not yet been ratified. We are, literally, legally not equal at this time. If you think this doesn’t actually mean anything, the supreme court rules on the actual law, not the assumed law and as major cases about women’s health come to pass, it does count that the constitution does not say “All men and women are created equal.”

Fae goes to daycare in a few weeks. I’ve been sad about it all month. I’ve gotten accustomed to her. And I don’t want to be away from her. I’ll get over it. Daycare is good for her and me. But… my baby!! I want to snuggle her and see her crinkle nose smile every day, all day. The world is full of a million contradictory things I want all at the same time and cannot have.

Things, September

September is barely here but I already have some things.

First the weather is finally bearable and I am … kind of missing the endless days of sun and blue sky? I AM A FICKLE BITCH I TELL YOU. Like, now I can’t just traipse out whenever the mood strikes? I have to actually pay attention to the forecast? Just in case it is raining? What is this inconvenience you speak of?

Working out. It is happening. Get it get it get it get it. Between 5 and 6 AM, unless the baby sleeps longer (And then I take it as a sign from GOD that we can stay in bed longer) we are up and at-am and sweating in the living room. Kicking and punching and squats and all kinds of horrible contortions in order to raise the heart rate and lift the butts.

Current food obsession: Veggie Quesadillas. Light on the cheese, heavy on the veggies. Tune into Instagram for a totally useless barrage of food photos (heavy on the cute kids, light on the food).

We are successfully having outings with our brood. I know it sounds like we have a whole gaggle when really we only have 2, but omg it feels like so many more babies than just 2. It feels like an ARMY OF BABIES. And we have managed to strap them into car seats and ignore their whines and cries and actually go places on the weekends. This mostly leaves Kamel and I in a sweaty puddle of stress and exhaustion. But we’re doing it! And I am banking on it getting easier with time and age. Like, eventually they drive themselves, right?

Last weekend Maris came into town and my family by choice was complete. More than ever I feel like some sort of band of super heroes with magic rings? (Bear with me here.) And only when we are all together do our powers combine into some sort of fantastical force? Anyways – I feel the most myself when my best friends are all together. The way they love on my kids, the way we cheer for each other, the way we always have our backs, the way they know so very much about it all that half the conversation is already spoken before we get a word out. It’s family and I want it all the time. (Soon, right Maris? SOON!)

Next weekend is for reals potty training weekend-o-spills-and-thrills. This was supposed to happen a few weeks ago but Gabe was sick and I need him in an up beat attitude for this thing.Underpants have been purchased, process has been ironed out, the only thing left to do is prep daycare that underpants are going to be the name of the game at school starting next week. I’m anticipating: pee on the carpet and poop in the potty resistance. But I’m also hoping that by October at the latest diapers all day are a thing of the past and we only have diapers at night. Here we go kids…

**Edit: We talked to the daycare potty trainer 9-5 (8:30-6) lady extraordinaire and she said that Gabe had regressed since his transition into the new room at the start of the new school year. So… we have to wait since he isn’t even peeing in the potty in the new room! WHAT! I guess the bigger potty freaks him out. SIGH. So we delay a bit longer. At least we got super super adorable underpants to gaze at longingly with the promise of cheaper Target bills?

Still on the job hunt. Still on the hunt to get me out of this house. Stay tuned.

Cord Blood Donation

July was Cord Blood Donation Awareness Month! I had plans to take a picture of my thank you note from Bloodworks Northwest and talk about my experience last week, but here it is now early August (IT IS AUGUST?!) and I missed the awareness month. But I’m still going to talk about it.

Donating cord blood is something I wanted to do with Gabriel, but the hospital I delivered at didn’t have the facilities for it, so I double-triple-checked that I could with Fae and am so happy we did!

During the hospital tour I asked about the process and they handed me over a packet of information and a large survey to be filled out and handed over at delivery. Some other programs have you mail it in before delivery, so it just depends. I opted for donation to patients vs donation for scientific studies because cord blood stem cells can help cure:

  • Anemias
  • Bone Marrow Failure
  • Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Various Immune Disorders
  • Leukemia

Fae was still able to experience delayed clamping and cord blood collection happened without any work from me. It all happened at the end of the table and voila! Fae and I may have just saved someone’s life.

If you are currently pregnant talk to your OB/Midwife about the cord blood donation options and see if where you delivery is donation-friendly. It’s pretty much donated or thrown away after your baby is done with it, so use it or lose it!

Note: I am very squeamish and don’t even donate blood as I frequently pass out and it would be a major day ruin-er. My annual physical is hard enough for me to get through, and this was a total drop in the bucket. So even for those people who think it is icky, I highly recommend. This is an amazing opportunity to help a stranger fighting for their life. Plus it’s pretty magical what science and the human body can do.

Things: Where Did The Spring Go?

I try and do 1 monthly “Things” post of all the random stuff I would like to talk about but is too small for 1 big post. But today it is not particularly June and not particularly May. Well, it is actually June, but I am having a hard time truly believing my calendar. April was long and full of travel and activities and turning 30, the last month of working for a while, and and and. It stretched on and felt full and complete. May. What happened in May? The world zoomed by and poof there are few flowers on the trees, everything is turning into a deep summer green, and the new birth of spring is settling into maturity. Well, ok then nature… you just do your thing, I guess.

We took photos while running about some last weekend, but then missed a bunch of other photo moments like a fun pizza-making BBQ at a friend’s place where Gabe was … a challenge, but also adorable, but also annoying, but also played by himself with a ball and an empty chair, but also refused to eat, but also referenced their house (and all free standing homes) as a castle. So, he was a toddler. What this meant was, I didn’t actually do a weekend-ing post because I felt my photo documentation was sparse. I need to be better. I have a goal of doing 100 of them and at this rate it’s going to take me several years to complete.

I am making photo books of every year of our family adventures since our wedding in 2011 for our anniversary this year. Since technically for our anniversary we will be having a baby, this is one of those projects that needs extra funds thrown at it and therefore needs a special occasion to complete. Looking through our adventureing trips makes me even more wanderlusty. We didn’t do anything this year! No long weekends to new places, no vacations. It is very sad and makes me miss doing new things very much. Things we have done: saved for a house, gestated. But ugh, booorrrinnnggg. I need my Great Wide Somewhere.

So, I was hoping to have a post about our updated nursery situation this week. BUT, do you know what is hard to find time to do with a toddler? Nail things into the walls. If they are around they want to touch everything and see everything and help and be picked up to look and on and on. If they are sleeping then nails in the walls are not a thing that really can happen. Sigh. Next week for sure. For growing family’s in small(er) spaces, I have some tips. Hint: It mostly involves not having a ton of stuff, but there is some Ikea thrown in as well.

We had family photos done last week by Rachelle Rawlings and the sneak peaks she posted on facebook and another on instagram are blowing my mind! We haven’t done any profesh photos since our wedding. We had a photographer for Gabe’s baptism, but it was mostly so no one had to worry about carrying around cameras. I specifically wanted these photos because I wanted to mark this time between 1 and 2 children. I wanted there to be a lovely timestamp moment of what it was like the spring before Fae arrived, when it was just the three of us and I happened to be very pregnant. I have always really adored professional family photos. Even the cheesy ones from the 90s, even the shoulder pads of the 80s, and especially seeing all of the hair-do changes. I love that there is a record of moments hanging in my grandmothers’ homes, of weddings, and births, and christmases. We have a lot of photos up on our walls, but I’m holding out for when we get an actual house (someday… someday…) and have a spot for the big group wedding photos with all of the generations present, the iconic baptism photos, a favorite from our engagement shoot, and now one of the incredibly beautiful family photos that Rachelle took. I’ll be posting some of my favorites once they arrive!

I am still hurting due to pregnancy. Walking is hard, I just ache all of the time in my lower back and hips. I successfully went to 2 physical therapy appointments and then canceled them after that. I am constantly going to the doctor now that I am late in this pregnancy and omg, physical therapy once a week was becoming too much. Too much to juggle with one car and getting everyone where they needed to be on time. I’ve got some exercises to do and they actually do help things (when I do them, ahem) and I know that once I stop being pregnant this discomfort will ease up and then go away. FOREVER. (Please let that be true.)

I’m really looking forward to the time when I can talk about other things beside pregnancy. Like adventures and having 2 kids and living my life beyond this one aspect of it. Six more weeks to go.