BIRL Book Club is Back!

Hello! It is a new year and I am ready to get back on the horse of READING. Do you want to join me? This time around I won’t be having anyone writing up posts for me, but if you want to read along with the list I am looking for a hearty book club discussion in comments.

First, though, I need to build the list! I am looking for book recommendations. Anything that you highly recommend that you have read recently/semi-recently, please tell me about it! Some of you have already left awesome suggestion on instagram and twitter! This means that you are already entered to win this year’s book giveaway! Surprise! 

If you haven’t left a suggestion yet and would like to win the full reading list, please leave a book recommendation in comments! One lovely winner (chosen at random) will be receiving a big box of books from Powell’s! 

All kinds of books are welcome! YA, Non-Fiction, Genre, etc. I want it all. books written by POC and women are especially welcome, but I guess I can read a few books by the mens too.

I will be posting the list and an estimated schedule in the next two weeks. I hope some of you will join me in reading along!

Weekending 44: Holidays Part 2

This is a week late because the holidays were happening and I wanted to live them and THEN report back on them.

The kids have started doing this thing where they just yell at each other during bath time. They think it is the best and funniest activity.

We were an hour late to Christmas Eve because naps did not happen when they should have and there was wrapping to be done and showers to take and food to buy and it was a giant race to the finish line. But we made it!

There was family and presents and food and joy.

Grandparents and Great-Grandparents and Uncles and Aunts and Cousins. And cookies. So many cookies.

And Kamel is in basically none of these photos because he rented a fancy camera for the weekend and it was manual only and … I can’t be trusted with such things. I do not have time for manual cameras, ok? It’s just not going to happen for me.

I really really love the mantel at my parent’s house.

Christmas morning started at about 730. Kamel brought Gabe into our room without him seeing the tee-pee that Santa had brought. And by Santa I mean that my grandmother had made me when I was little and we now have for my kids. *Magic*

Fae was appropriately WOAH about it.

Gabe now lives in there. We see him for meals.

And then we all went downstairs to scope out the tree!

And all the gifts my parents had brought over a few days before, along with Kamel’s parent’s gifts that were shipped and wrapped by us – like magic!

My parents were such good sports and came over right away in the morning so we could all do presents together!

Fae was a little overwhelmed, so for a while she just stayed on Kamel’s lap just like this, clutching a christmas tree cookie.

Both the kids were super into creating present piles!

(Oh! This was Kamel’s christmas present from moi.)

We got Gabe a Sofia The First amulet. I wouldn’t allow Santa to take the glory for that one.

Tia Regina and Tia Lara got the kids an outdoor picnic table! So of course, lunch had to be al fresco! Fleecies and coats and boots for all!

It wasn’t raining, just cold. So we played outside most of the afternoon.

A+ parenting.

Then we went to the beach! And stayed there, throwing rocks into the water and watching Gabe ride his bike, and saying hello to all of the dogs, and playing on swings until it was very, very dark.

(Epic toss into the water, Gabe. Epic!)

Oh look! Kamel let me take a photo. It isn’t completely in focus.

On Monday, the kids were out of school and Kamel and I had the day off from work, so we went over to Claire’s to terrorize their cat, Nala.

(And love it unconditionally) GROUP HUG.

And then we ended the weekend with dinner at my parent’s while Kamel helped my dad set up his new computer!

The end!

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.

The Burden of Being The Oldest

I have been thinking about this post for weeks but have not had a quiet moment to sit and right it until now. I have been feeling painfully protective of Gabriel lately. The necessity of mothers and fathers everywhere to hang back and hold your breath and watch your small (and big) child exist in the world becomes harder and harder the older they get and the more injustice and mean-spirited crap they face. I am just at the very beginning of all that.

But more than Gabe telling me that so-and-so doesn’t like him or someone at school doesn’t want to play with him, I am most protective over his interactions with adults.

When you are the only 3.5-4 year old at any event. When the other kids are babies and young toddlers, who are adorable even in their tantrums, whose desires are simple, who have only a few demanding words – it’s hard. I hear all of his questions, his attempt at organizing the world, his energy level, his magnetism to touch all the things he shouldn’t touch and play with all of the things he shouldn’t play with and I feel self-conscious for him. While other babies and his little sister toddle around, picking things up that we don’t want them to have, we chase after them, removing things from their iron grips or redirecting them to tissue paper. But with an older child we say, “No Gabriel. Don’t play with that. Put that down please. That’s not a toy,” or “Gabriel, gentle! Be gentle!” or “Not over there, Gabe. Stay out of that room.” And it’s not cruel scolding or even really a raised voice, but there is a sternness there, that only he is subject to.

Babies and young toddlers are adorable inconveniences. Older kids can be, genuinely, exhausting. But Gabriel isn’t actually doing anything wrong. He’s playing, or he is excited, or he is exploring, or he is talking without any volume control, or he isn’t hungry but needs to sit at the table anyway, or he has no awareness of his own physical space.

Almost every day at daycare pickup I have to hear about something Gabriel did that wasn’t awesome. Whether he bumped his head (oh well) or he smacked another kid with a block because they were continually pushing over his tower (not great but probably deserved) or if he didn’t eat the food that day (not surprised) or if he was “overly excited” (wtf he is a little kid) or if he was sensitive (he has big feelings) or he was grabbing kids faces (wtf Gabriel) or WHATEVER it is…. I get that update. And it makes me really uncomfortable.

I have great respect for teachers and assessments and if my kids turn out to suffer from a learning disability or have a behavioral issue that needs to be addressed, I want to be 100% on board. But I also don’t want Gabe to be labeled a bad kid because he is an energetic, goofy, theatrical, goober face. He is super loving, who has big feelings, who is still learning to follow directions and listen with his ears. I don’t want him to feel like he is a bad kid, because he isn’t.

I don’t think that Gabe is forever being scolded at school. I think his preschool is teaching all of those little hoodlums how to be actual humans in the world. How to sit in a seat. How to respect personal space bubbles. How to pick up after themselves. But these little picky feedbacks I receive paired with parenting being a constant lesson in picking my battles, consistency, and kindness, plus my sensitivity to his interactions within our social group – it has me feeling sad for him. He is still so little and I want him to be treated with patience and kindness. I don’t want people to see him as this giant limbed energizer bunny bound to destroy all things breakable. (I mean, he is, but he is also so much more!)

As kids grow they get more complicated. Gabe doesn’t stay where you put him. He gets himself up after naps. He gets his own milk out of the fridge. He wants to know why. He can acknowledge when his feelings are hurt. He hears what you’re saying to him and chews on it. A few days after he’s done something wrong he will often say to me (while in the car or during quiet moments) “Mama, I’m sorry I broke daddy’s glasses,” or “Mama, I’m sorry I splashed all the water out of the bath.”

In a lot of ways babies are more fun. They are so cute. Even when Fae adamently says “Nnnnnno!” I just want to scoop her up and cuddle her. When Gabe says, “NO!” I repeat what I’ve asked him to do and say, “If you don’t pick up the thing you threw on the floor by the time I count to three you’re going to be in timeout.”

I don’t want the bulk of his interactions to be negative. I don’t want the world to view him as exhausting. I worry they do because he is, but he is also so many other fantastic things too. I hold my breath and watch him exist in the world. But I also tell him how amazing he is.

Weekending 43: Holidays Part 1

This weekend was cold. Saturday was in the 20s and we started the weekend off by getting Fae a booster flu shot.

She did so good though! And stopped crying within a minute. Gabe was telling me all about how the ear worked. (ha)

It was so so cold, but the weather has been wintery for weeks now (as does happen in winter) and we just had to get outside.

Even with backwards helmets.

Even when the playground equipment was so cold it was practically burning my hands. You try to keep gloves on babies.

It was us and 1 other family at the park. Gabe kept saying “No one is here!”

Oh, we also made burgers.

On Sunday! Gabe got a haircut! And though he flinched and whined, he DID NOT CRY. (Or scream or repeat “almost done almost done almost done” like the traumatized kid he is.)

“Look over there, Gabe. Do you see that big snake on the wall?”

He is so fair with his short hair. His edges are all blonde like they glow.

Whoops.

(She did not get up there by herself)

(My oh god please don’t die face)

This is for sure the cover of the official holiday album of the PNW.

After haircut we played at the park, cut cupcakes, and then went to grab brunch. Where Fae busied herself by rearranging the furniture. How nice of her. Then she broke a jar of something and out of humiliation and after offering 700000 times to pay for it, we left.

Oh look at this adorable face. The face of a little girl who refused to nap, cried for 20 minutes, was quiet in her crib and not sleeping for another 30 and then fell asleep for 20 minutes only to wake up SCREAMING in a sweaty drooly mess. Adorablness is deceiving! (No it’s not, COME SNUGGLE ME FAE)

Then it was holiday party time!

The kids were so happy and so excited and such good sports. The cocktails were fantastic, the meal was super delicious, Claire and Lincoln were awesome hosts!

The kitty fled the children, as it should. But trying to find it was just as much fun as being able to pet it (never happened).

I really love my people.

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.

 

Episode 30: No Trade-Backs

Today is a call to action!! We are talking about household responsibilities and Kamel’s constant wish that we could switch it up and my constant reply of “No.”

But now we really want to hear from you. How do you break up the house work? Is it a space of tension or is it seamless? Do you feel like you do more or less or equal? Does your partner bitch about it? Let me into your world! And share it with the rest of us.

Also if you have opnions on how Kamel doesn’t want to do the kitchen anymore and I won’t let him quit, feel free to share on that as well!

Voicemails are needed by December 16th. 

The number to call is: 415 275 0551

Weekend-ing 41

I was in a sick person funk this weekend. I stayed home mostly and did nothing. I had been feeling like shit on Thursday and Friday and then Saturday it was the peak of shit where I had to CANCEL a drink date with Claire… so you know it was bad.

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I mean, don’t get me wrong. It was a Christmas prep bonanza weekend. Fae basically never stopped making that face.

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…Or that face.

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On Saturday morning we decorated the tree. Gabriel made sure all the ornaments were snuggling.

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weekending-40-109weekending-40-110Gabe was really excited about this cookie that Kamel got him. He wouldn’t let me have a bite no matter how many times I asked.

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Kamel decided to take the ornament hooks out of their little box and toss them in a bowl. And then I murdered him with my eyes.

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Tree complete!

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Tree complete with my family in front of it!

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Look with your eyes not with your hands.

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Look with your eyes not with your hands.

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Look with your eyes… oh fuck it.

Saturday morning was all about pushing Fae around on this elephant as fast as Gabriel could go and me stopping them before they crashed into our walls or tree or flung Fae from the moving vehicle.

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We basically stayed in our pajamas all weekend. The fact that this is SO incredibly rare in our house means we should probably do it more often.

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Fae hasn’t learned the concept of taking turns yet.

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Water break.

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And then we headed over to my parent’s house to celebrate my mom’s belated birthday! Sometimes it takes a village to put shoes on.

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Dear Lord in Heaven I love a veggie plate.

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My parents had picked up little piggy banks for the kids while they were in Arizona. Putting coins into the piggies entertained Gabe and Fae for a solid 30 minutes. I ate chips.

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And then the weekend was over.

(Long!) Weekend-ing 40

Thanksgiving happened!! And we roadtripped with the kids up to Vancouver BC to spend the long weekend with my best friend, Maris and her family. The end result was kid-palooza! And both Kamel and I talking about how much we LOVE to travel with our kids and wished we did it more often. More family vacations please. More more more.

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(That is real joy on my face after spending a really long time waiting for my to-go order before hitting the road northbound!)

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Our Vancouver airbnb was amazing. It was the perfect size and had a great kitchen, heated bathroom floors, and the kids thoroughly enjoyed running in circles all over it.

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When we got there, Gabe really wanted to document the place. So this next series of photos is all him. “Cheese with the movie!” (TV) “Cheese on the couch!” “Cheese jumping!” and so on.

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And then everyone jumped and promptly fell off the slipper odoman, so…

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The night before Thanksgiving was piling into Maris’s apartment with burgers and fries and all the babies.

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Gabe doesn’t sleep well alone in new places. So on vacation he usually piles into bed with Kamel and I if we have a king bed. This time around he got his own room, while Fae was in the packNplay in the master with us. Gabe was very excited that there were TWO pillows in his bed so that there would be room for one of us too!

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So I slept with Gabe the first night and Kamel slept with him the other two. Everyone sleeps, everyone is happy. Baby snuggles!!

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And then it was back to Maris’s where we headed out for a donut breakfast to kick off the holiday right.

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Exploring new playgrounds is one of my favorite things to do on vacation with the kids. It gets you out in the neighborhood, enjoying the day, and it makes everyone happy. We have playgrounded in Boston, Miami, and now Vancouver. Where will we playground next?

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Thanksgiving evening was total utter chaos. Because Thanksgiving with kids and babies and the cooking and the heat of the cooking and the children and the children and oh yeah the children… but it was chaos completely surrounded by love and family and the amazing spread Maris whipped up.

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Gabriel would not, could not stop talking about pumpkin pie. When will he get pie? Where is the pie? Is this the pie? Is it in the oven? Can he have it now? Why can’t he have it now? How about now? Is it pie time?

The whole time I had doubts as to whether or not he would actually EAT THE PIE because Gabriel… oh have you heard? DOESN’T EAT.

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He totally ate pumpkin pie. We all held our breaths and looked away and he proclaimed, “I’M TRYING NEW THINGS!….I get at treat because I am trying new things.”

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(Modern motherhood with my best friend, you guys.)

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The next day we had a relaxing start with bath time and Curious George before heading out to explore the neighborhood.

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(Classic auntie Maris, using her butt as an anchor.)

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In the afternoon we went to Kitsilano Beach Park and playgrounded hard.

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On our final day we made one last pitstop at Chez Maris for Uncle Alex’s Famous Crepes.

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And then… Maris and I literally ran to catch our booked sea-plane tour. Only to show up 5 minutes BEFORE the scheduled time and be told we couldn’t get on the plane because we needed to be there 10 minutes before.

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This is us after we watched our seaplane depart without us into the mist. Which probably caused a crappy tour anyway, so there.

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So we went on this super cheesy FANTASTIC video ride experience instead and it was amazing.

Meanwhile the kids were dry and warm, eating snacks.

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And then we drove home. And the next day we went to the zoo, which there are also photos of. But this post is getting to be literally a mile long so I will stop here.

I hope your weekend was fantastic and it somehow restored lost hope in humanity. Because yes.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today we are in Canada! On Thanksgiving! Hi, Canada!

I hope you all are having a lovely holiday with your families and friends wherever you may be. And if this is not a holiday for you, I hope you are have a really really great day.

It is now time for the customary list of Things I Am Grateful For. As is internet required. Ahem…

I am thankful for this house. I am thankful that house searching is over and that we landed in a home we can afford, that also has the space we need.

I am thankful for our lovely friends and neighbors, Laura and Byron and all of the help they have offered us since moving. The moral support and the lifting of heavy things, especially.

I am thankful for my parents! My dad for being such a good travel buddy in Mexico and for being adventurous and up for all of it. And my mom for helping us PAINT our DEN and repairing the drywall in my office. This year has been coo-coo bananas and we would never have been able to move without them.

I am so immensely grateful for my best friends and sisters. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the love that they show me and my children. For including us in your lives, for being my rocks, for being there to celebrate with me, and rage with me, and help me. I am so grateful to be living in Seattle and able to be there for their big life events, for their children, for their celebrations and rages and long walks and spontaneous dinners and nail appointments and all of the things. I love them very much.

I am grateful that after Kamel was laid off he was able to find a job quickly.

I am grateful for the health of my children. I realize that it isn’t anything you do “right” it is simply a toss of the universal dice.

I am grateful for my job. I love it a lot. I am doing something that I am good at and that I love and that I went to school for and for that I am so so grateful.

I am undeserving of your continued readership and that so many of you also tune into our podcast. Your continued support over so many years has allowed for a awesome community that I very much cherish. Thank you.

I have a lot of fear for the future. A lot of fear about climate change, a lot of fear and shame about the kind of America we have brought on ourselves. But! I am also incredibly fortunate and incredibly thankful for so many things.

Happy Thanksgiving!