Heading Into 2017

On the morning of New Year’s Eve we were on our way to the zoo with the kids. Kamel said to me, “Wait. Is TODAY New Year’s Eve? Is it? Oh my god it is! I thought I had another day! I feel robbed of a day!”

And that is a perfect explanation of how the year went for us.

Most of 2016 for us was a mad-dash. I made plans and then promptly forgot them, only to be reminded the day before, hours before, etc. I skated through by the skin of my teeth in all things. If your experience with me has been that I have all my shit together. Well, friends, that is all smoke and mirrors. My children are lucky to have clean pants and I am always surprised there is food in the fridge.

A lot of people wanted the last few months of 2016 to zoom by. They wanted to skip ahead to 2017. But I had the opposite feelings. I’m afraid of 2017. I am not really hopeful. I am not looking ahead to a clean, shiny new year. I am dreading the climate in the U.S. I am dreading the portrait change in the federal buildings. I am looking ahead with trepidation that the safety of my family may be in jeopardy, that the financial future looks uncertain, that the world is not a kinder, better, healthier place than it was a year ago. The end of 2016 has left me sad and full of feelings with no outlets.

So in 2017 I march.

In 2017 I will be stronger. I will run further.

In 2017 I will spend more time outside.

I will give more than I ever have to institutions who work to protect all of us.

In 2017 I will be sad but I will also be in action.

I will be kind but I will be unyielding.

In 2017 I will be tired, but I will do it anyway.

I will read.

I will drink less and sleep more.

And when the world is bleak and I feel lost, I will play. Because there is always hope somewhere and I need to remember to look for it.

Episode 31: Welcome Home – Now With YouTube

Today we are finally finally FINALLY revealing the house we bought! In all of it’s incomplete, bare-walled glory. The podcast will be audio AND visual. So, that means if you would like to see the house and hear us talk about it, go here: https://youtu.be/E8g3pjS40f0

You can hear audio only in the normal podcast download/link on the blog.

Thank you to everyone who was so supportive during our house-hunting journey. It was a long long long process and I never thought the house we ended up with would have been the end result. Life is weird.



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.

Podcast Update

A little update on podcast life as we attempt to get our life back in order with a big move next Monday! Coming up: we have more listener questions answered, another budget breakdown, and a discussion (because so many people asked) about how we actually managed to get things in order to buy a house without a windfall + chat on our loan type, etc.

Kamel and I are a never-ending flood of relationship chatter, but we also greatly appreciate questions or comments from listeners. It helps us focus the direction of the podcast and inspires refreshed insight. So while we are on this short and unexpected break, do take a minute (if you have thoughts) and shoot me an email at birlpodcast@gmail.com. Also if you have a minute while browsing the internets, please do leave us a review on itunes and/or just give us a rating. It really helps us grow the audience which directly impacts the quality of content. You can find us on itunes by searching “I’m Better In Real Life Podcast”.

Thanks everyone! And see you on the other side of this frenzied break.

Where Did Lauren Go?

Where am I? I have been asking myself this question. Where did I go? I have been drowning in survival. You guys know this. I mention it sometimes. And it is also very apparent in my lack of posting, and the parent-centric themes I touch on now, much more frequently than ever before.


Where did Lauren go?

It is so important to my inner core of self that I continue to have adventures, continue to do things that challenge me, continue to have FUN that doesn’t involve my children or my family, but is jusst about me. It is important to my creative soul, to my inner voice that I have new experiences, to travel, to experience art, to LIVE this whole life. And wow doesn’t that sound privileged and whiny? It does. I apologize.

It’s just that… my wells have run dry. I have not gone anywhere new, experienced new culture or new food, or done anything that pushed myself beyond myself for reasons that were not: Children, Job, Family… in almost 2 years or more?

I am not just this one part of me that works all day, stairs out the same window with the same view, does the same bedtime routine with the kids, wears the same stretched out leggings, and eats the same Trader Joes taquitos every day for lunch. None of us are those things. But here I am.

I have felt older and more tired and the least inspired I have ever felt in my entire life during the last 5-ish months. I am just now starting to recognize the why. I don’t want to feel this way anymore. I don’t want to feel old and like I look like a grey, worn out ghost of my former self at 31. I should not feel like the oldest, saddest looking one of my friends when I go out. I should not feel like an empty shell. Where did Lauren go? It’s time that I do the work to find her.

2015 is Done.

I don’t do resolutions but I do like to look ahead and make some goals for myself. What can I accomplish next year? What did I do in the year that trails behind me? What are we here for? What are we doing? What have we done? Etc etc.

At the end of 2014 I made some goals.

I wanted to be more involved in charity work.

I wanted to make a dent and/or finish a book I had started.

And I wanted to have my baby.

The entire year I felt a nagging guilt over not being more involved in charity work. But I did do more/give more than I had in previous years. Time, tiny human responsibilities, and finances limited my ability. This is just something I really want to do and will always be a priority for my life. It’s just the unfortunate truth that sometimes other things come before my ability to give to others. Ugh, that just sounds so gross saying out loud.

I did for sure make a dent in a book I was writing. I did not finish it, though I had no excuse not to. I have, though, decided to reorganize it. (Did you hear that Margaret! Stop reading the draft you have! I have no goals for it!) I foresee this being an evolving process. One that doesn’t get much traction until after Fae turns 1. That’s just how having tiny humans works. The first year is a shit show, the rest of life struggles to keep up.

Oh, but I did have that baby. So, gold stars for me!

2016… it has a nice ring to it. When I think about the year in my mind I get little sparks of excitement. THE FUTURE IS HERE. What’s going to happen? What are we going to do? What surprises will pounce on us? Will they be good surprises? Or will they sit on our faces until we cry for mercy? Who knows! The future is a mystery…

What do I want to accomplish? What do you want to accomplish? What are you going to conquer in 2016? Hearing the aspirations of others is inspiring, so please do share in comments.

My three goals:

1.) Buy a freaking house.

2.) Create a successful (meaning good, by my standards) podcast.

3.) Be consistent with Weekend-ing again.

Other minor goals that I’ll say are “honorable mentions” are…

1.) Get into a career situation that is more permanent than where I’m at currently.

2.) Get our photo books printed!! For fucksake!

3.) Get back into shape.

I really feel like this year is the year of Taking Care of Business. It’s going to be one of those rip-roaring years where we all look back this time next year and think, “holy shit… all of that in just one year?” Yup. All of it in just one year. We got this. It’s going to be insane.

Things, October

This month has been especially quiet in blog land. And it’s actually gearing up to be a very busy month, but things with me are sort of…. wonk.

The month started off with some downers on the job front. Nothing seems to be panning out. There have been many many many applications filled out with very few return phone calls. After the “work for free… with kids” incident, I was then sent an email for a phone interview from a major online retail company (that starts with a Z that many people use) offering me 15.50 an hour to write product copy and I would have to work a weekend day (either Saturday or Sunday, my choice!) with an 11:30am to 7:30pm schedule. Unfortunately not a family friendly job and too entry level. I’m pretty up beat about the job hunt game. I’m generally good at getting work, I don’t procrastinate with job applications – applying to somewhere between 5-10 jobs a week in my little digital content world – replying to all recruiter phone calls and emails promptly and with enthusiasm. I’m on it, you know? But a week ago I was beyond defeated. Since then things have shifted in a new direction and I’m excited to report in full on that in a little bit.

Oh my gosh suddenly it is fall. There are leaves on the ground and a chill in the air and I’m having to wear cardigans and my two pairs of pants that fit, and there was even a full day of rain this week! The first time that’s happened in what? 5 months? 6 months? ALL DAY RAIN. It was glorious. And in 2 months I will be crying mercy. Fickle fickle Lauren.

This weekend we are headed to the beach with my parents for my dad’s 60th birthday! The first vacation we have taken in over a year. It will be rainy and chilly and cozy. There will be board games and sweat pants and rain boots. Gabe will be in a bunk bed in his own room. I’m anticipating several wakeups. But maybe I can sneak in a nap while my parents take Gabe somewhere to run him ragged.

I am working out a ton. So is Kamel. I love it. I actually really enjoy working out. Not so much the getting out of bed, but I like the physical challenge of it and getting into the zone. Alarms go off at 530, if Fae doesn’t have a 5am feeding, and then it is sports bras and living room squats and lunges and high knees. I am a sweaty betty, Kamel is sore and grumpy, it is ON folks.

It’s been a year since I got pregnant with Fae. Can you believe it? I put this photo on instagram yesterday.

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Me, post workout, weeks pregnant. Fae was IN THERE you guys. She was already in there and now she is out here and it never ceases to amaze me. Especially when milestones roll past like they do. Yesterday I was thinking about when Kamel and I got married. How woah, I got MARRIED. Like, that happened! How did that even happen? And then we decided to have babies?! And that happened too?! When? When did all these things happen and why wasn’t I informed? Sometimes life IS slow, like waiting for employment or waiting for enough money to buy a house or waiting for pregnancy to be done, but the reality is it is never slow. Not ever. It is fast. It is a blink. It is my entire twenties poof. Did I really do all of those things? And is it really over?

It is. I wonder what’s next…

Where Am I?

The day after I gave birth I had this moment of panic about needing to immediately start job hunting. I need a job, like NOW. My brain was in manic get-back-to-it mode and thank god in that moment I was in a hospital bed and not anywhere near a computer. First of all, maternity leave. Second of all, I don’t fit into any of my clothes yet. How would I even go to a job interview?

Oh please disregard my leaking breasts and the fact that these trousers are unbuttoned, I just had a baby.

I definitely need a minute to sort myself out before I go trying to convince other people to pay me money for my savvy professional writing skills. But the fear and holy-shit-ness is real.

For several nights in a row my dreams consisted of a sudden realization that I needed to take care of a lot of people unexpectedly. First I dreamed that Kamel had some sort of head wound and I needed to wrangle our 5 children and convince him he needed to go to the hospital all at the same time. Then the next night I dreamed I discovered yet another fish I needed to keep alive and had forgotten about and now needed to bring back from the brink.

Having 2 kids is a kick in the ass. One kid was good. I felt on top of it, like I had leveled up in life enough that adding another complication to the mix was just… fun. I upped my difficulty level but I was prepared for it. I had the bandwidth. Having two kids makes me feel like I’m constantly juggling…sticks that are on fire… while balancing 3 stories of plates atop my head.

I’ve got to make sure Gabe gets enough attention and 1:1 time with each of us.

I need to be aware of Fae’s eating schedule and remember I can’t just up and leave the house without her for long stretches.

Omg baby vaginas. Don’t get poop in the baby vaginas!!

I have to encourage and foster Gabe and Fae’s relationship even when I want Gabe to stop touching his sleeping sister, to be quiet so she doesn’t wake up, for the love of god wash your grubby daycare hands before touching her face! Don’t squish her eyes! Be careful of her head!

… but I don’t say most of these things. I don’t want him to feel like she is off limits. She is his as much as they are ours.

There are still meals to prepare (Even if that just means popping something in the oven thanks to my dad and friends), diapers to change, a thousand more loads of laundry, and floors to vacuum. Now I just have less hands, less sleep, less time. I am never not parenting. I am either nursing, holding, burping, or changing one OR playing with, talking to, supervising, bathing, changing, snuggling the other. There is no “handing off the kid and taking a minute of me time” because there is always another one seeking attention.

I could be napping right this second, but I’m writing this instead. If not now, when? And I need to write, I need it. It’s how I set down a thought and walk away. I’ve never been very good at sleeping when the baby(ies) sleep. That’s not how I self-care. Even when I am so very tired. Even when I should actually probably shower, tend to my stitched nethers, change my nursing tank. Sometimes I would just so much rather be here. So I am. And I will be for the foreseeable future, even if it’s no longer cool to blog. Even if it is. And honestly, I’m too busy and in the thick of it to really know which is which anymore. Are people still reading the internet? So many of you reached out to me when I was wondering what I was going to do with a space I feel I can barely keep up with myself, that it looks like at least a good handful of you are still out there. <<waves>>

Even if I’m not on HuffPo. Even if I never get a book deal. Even if I never sell advertising. These things are not actually my real goals anyway. I just want to write really honest, really great stories that people read and have some sort of reaction to. It’s a constant work in progress.

Closing out 2014

Oh my goodness this year. This year of TRANSITION in all caps.

We often try and do as much as possible in just 1 year and it sends me in a spiraling loop some days, while other days it invigorates me into superhero-level productivity. I CAN CONQUER THE WORLD! Except when I can’t and I am a puddle on the floor.

What were your goals for 2014? How did you do? Don’t be too hard on yourself, LIFE is a goal, just the daily grind and getting through it awards you two thumbs up. Everything else is icing on the gravy.

Last year I had so many things to say and so many feels and I was a lost puppy with the big wide world of a fresh start ahead of me (and at the same time the reality of staying at home with baby Gabe until a lot of details were handled) and I wanted to get my writing back on track, take a trip with just Kamel, and become more comfortable with using our village of babysitters.

When it comes to my writing a year ago I was empty of thoughts and ideas. I didn’t know where to go. But then I took an online course, I went to AWP and I started writing a book. Ideas, I have them. Well at least 1 pretty big idea. Now it is just finding the energy to make it happen now that I am pregnant and a giant waste of gestational space. But hey! IDEAS! The stuff work and genius are made of!

So Kamel and I didn’t take a trip just for ourselves. BUT we DID have a staycation and our first overnight without the baby!  It was mostly a success but we did spend an annoying amount of time moaning about how much we missed him. God it is so gross being those parents. Oh well, first overnight under our belts, and we haven’t done it again sense. Face. Palm. We also managed a real actual trip to somewhere new. Maine! A place I’ve wanted to go since I was 8!! And we hadn’t had an adventure vacation since March of 2012, so I’m calling that win!

And that leads right into our village of babysitters. I have become ok with it. I try and mix it up so that no 1 person feels taken advantage of. But I will say, sometimes organizing and planning so far ahead is just so much work JUST to go see a movie or JUST to go out to dinner, so we don’t do it on a regular basis, but way way way more than we did when we were in the bay area and have managed to do some really fun things.

This year I want to have this kid. First and most important goal.

I also want to become more involved in volunteering/charity work.

I would really like to finish a first draft of my book. But! Who knows. This is a soft goal. Even if I write a few hundred pages I will be a happy camper.

2015!! You’re almost there!! The year I turn 30!! The year my second child will be born!! What mysteries await inside your storied halls?