Episode 20: Property Spouses

The photo above is me, with one of our agents, at the first house we put an offer on. Now it is somebody else’s house.

After we recorded this episode, we found a house we thought would work and then promptly lost it. Even though we were the highest bidder, someone else waived more contingencies and they gave the house to them. Seattle is a similar market to San Francisco, only about 400k less. But just as wackadoo with low inventory.

House hunting has been rough on our marriage. Not in the “we should get divorced” way, but in the “I don’t even LIKE YOU RIGHT NOW” way. And feeling that a lot of the time is exhausting and draining. Maybe it won’t be like that for you, maybe you had a marvelous time shopping for homes. But for me, it has been one of the biggest challenges in our nearly 5 years together.

But enough about me. We want to hear from YOU. Join in on our sad sack gravy train. What are your moving stories? What are your room mate stories? What are your house buying stories? Tell me how you found your dream house, tell me about the bullets you’ve dodged, tell me about what a massive pain in the ass house hunting, apartment hunting, MOVING is. Do you have a story? I want to hear it. 

All stories are due by Monday, July 4th! 

Please call 415-275-0551. Message space is about 3 minutes. Call back as many times as you need! We will edit things together. 🙂

Without you, there is no episode. <3

Episode 19: For Fun or For Glory

Today’s episode was inspired by an old-ish article I read in NY Times titled “Why You Will Marry The Wrong Person.” Which is borderline click-bait, but ended up also being kind of amazing.

Turns out, putting up with someone’s annoying crap doesn’t = settling. It might just = marriage? But don’t worry! It also means someone is putting up with your annoying crap! It’s all a big circle.

We talk about this image in the podcast, so for your viewing pleasure here it is:



And, the excerpt that I read from the article is also here:

NY Times article excerpt

But, please, go read the article. It is so good. So much to think about! And then listen to the podcast (or listen and then go read it, either way really). Today is all about the reality of what being married means and then we do a little meta discussion on what it’s like to work creatively with each other. How do you share space on a project where there is unequal footing, yet you aim for total equality in life? Sometimes it gets tricky.

Things, June

The biggest update of the month is that Kamel starts his new job on Wednesday! Hooray! We have started back up house hunting (though that is a mixed bag of feelings) and our new routine is just around the corner. In the mean time Kamel is soaking up his last hours of video-game playing, house-putzing, afternoon-napping. Big deep breath. It has been a journey and now I am looking forward to some prolonged stability for a little while. Right? Right.

I am so tired of doing for others. Which sounds like such a shitty thing to say. But here we are. When my day is surrounded by caring for others, being exceptionally patient with my children, working with their schedules, being kind to my husband, planning and being flexible for others, hosting events, honoring loved ones, spending much of my daily energy and a lot of money on people who are not me, it starts to wear on me. And this is not to play the martyr card. Maybe it is a flaw of mine. It has to do with balance, but is sounds so toddler to say so. When I’m not feeling thought of, but I’m spending a lot of time thinking of others it really does feel like something is pushing on a bruise. Lately I have had way too much output and not enough input. I am not eternally giving, what can I say?

I have been feeling the pull to Maine stronger and stronger and stronger. A vacation home? (Ridiculous in the face of our inability to even get a home-home.) Or maybe it is the pull to escape to a place where no one can find me. A little world all my own sectioned off from the masses. With bad cell reception and crap data plans. Is this why people go camping?

I want into a book store this weekend. It was kind of cheating because it was an Amazon book store. In real life. But it was SO COOL. Even though, ugh! Amazon! Independent book stores are where it is AT. But… they had a section of most popular books purchased in the PNW. And they had little side sections where the top rated books of certain genres were listed. And other little side sections where they had “If you like this, you will like these” books set up. Which were just FASCINATING. Algorithms in real life! I’m such a nerd for information like that. It felt like I was walking through a tangible internet. It was intoxicating. Kamel and I started off in there together and then silently moved apart until I was suddenly aware that I was browsing alone. Then when I was filled up with words and thinking and quiet time I had to go search for him. It was delicious.

I bought one book. It was in the “most purchased in the PNW section” or whatever. I’m certain I am phrasing that incorrectly. It’s “Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur. It’s a book of narrative poetry and I read it all in one sitting. I have to share a piece or two from it because I dog-eared a lot of pages for this one purpose.

In a section called “The Hurting”

you pinned
my legs to
the ground
with your feet
and demanded
i stand up

In a section called “The Breaking”

the woman who comes after me will be a bootleg
version of who I am. she will try and write poems
for you to erase the ones i’ve left memorized on
your lips but her lines could never punch you in
the stomach the way mine did. she will then try to 
make love to you body. but she will never
lick, caress, or suck like me. she will be a sad
replacement of the woman you let slip. nothing she 
does will excite you and this will break her. when
she is tired of falling apart for a man that doesn’t
give back what he takes she will recognize me in 
your eyelids staring at her with pity and it’ll hit her.
how can she love a man who is busy loving
someone he can never get his hands on again. 

Father’s Day was freaking beautiful. I handled the baby wakeups in the night, the kids woke up at 545, I ordered breakfast to be delivered by postmates. We made pancakes with Gabriel while we took turns eating our scrambles with hashbrowns and crispy bacon (Which Kamel ate all of, as he should). It was a sparklingly sunny day, Kamel got presents from Gabe, we went to the park and spent a lot of time looking at baby ducks and fish swimming around in ponds, Fae napped deliciously, Gabe refused his nap but was super cute about it, and then we went over to my parents for barbecued halibut and steaks. I mean, that describes heaven, does it not?

I Turned My Hair Blonde(r)

A few weeks ago I walked into my salon with a bunch of saved photos of ladies with rockin’ hair and I said “I want to look like this.”

I do not feel like a blonde person. My identity is not blonde. I have brown hair and pale skin, and I look great in red. These things I know. But since approaching my 31st birthday and for probably a handful of months before that, I have felt OLD and TIRED and BORING and OLD and throw in some more OLD in there. Like deep in my bones haggard.

I look at myself in photos of my friends and I don’t think, “hot damn, girl.” I think, “ugh.”

I look in the mirror and I see exhaustion. I see messy hair and tired, tired eyes, and a total lack of luminescence. Where is my sparkle? It got sucked out of me by two tiny humans and a lot of have-tos and stress and the juggling of adult life.

But I am only 31. I am not ready to become old and tired and haggard and sad. I don’t ever want to be, but certainly not NOW.

A few years ago, before I had Fae, I was sitting in my cubicle at work and I had this jolt of sads. I felt like I had missed my opportunity to reinvent myself and take grand fashion risks. I felt that the person inside me was not being reflected outward. That I was way edgier and way cooler, and way more willing to take big risks. Except now, I needed to be professional and I needed to uphold a certain amount of who-knows-what, and that risky time had passed. I had MISSED it.

It took the confidence of being in my 30s to realize: No. I have not missed it. I can do whatever the hell I want to my style or my hair or whatever. And it doesn’t mean anything. It only makes a statement if I want it to. If it doesn’t work, oh well, try try again. Going blonde doesn’t have to mean anything other than I wanted to try something new to see what would happen.

It’s not like it ever is that deep, but sometimes these decisions FEEL that way. What will other people think? What if it looks bad? What if I hate it? Those questions seems so loaded. And I do swirl them around in my brain. I do ask friends for opinions and sit on it all for a minute. I was going to go grey/lavendar, but after researching it the upkeep was just not something I was willing to do. I am nothing if not low maintenance. And I don’t like having roots. So chunky blonde it is!


I also did something super vain. And, like, whatever. Sometimes we need to do things just because they make us feel pretty, add a skip in our step, or erase an insecurity.

I went and got an airbrush spray tan! (After the above photo… for clarity) And it was kind of awesome. It was a little bit of an adventure because there are things that need to be done (like not showering or working out or getting wet for 12 hours after application), and I did stand in a room in just a disposable thong with a lady where a gas mask as she painted me with a sprayer thing. Overall it was awesome! I saw many people after I got it done and no one even commented on the fact that I looked tan, but it did take the winter grey out of my complexion. They had a range of tan options from 1-4 (like a spicy scale at a thai place) and I went with a 2.

I’m reporting on this because I was a little embarrassed by it initially. Like, seriously? What am I on the Jersey Shore or something? But it wasn’t like that. I avoid sun burns like crazy, and am adamant about sun screen and I still can burn. I don’t want premature wrinkles, sun spots, or cancer. But having some color is just NICE. And! And! What I do with my body, or what anyone does to their body shouldn’t be shameful. Even if it’s as silly as a spray tan. Even if it’s botox or lip injections or whatever. Ok, maybe the people who turn themselves into cats deserve some side eyes. But, those choices don’t have any bearing on my life! So, you do you, kitty.

At the end of my two week blonde/tan transformation, I definitely felt less crappy. Definitely more like I have my shit together and less like the frumpy ugly duckling in old gap maternity t-shirts. I’m still in my gap maternity tshirts, I just feel better about what’s underneath.

Getting Lauren back. One transformation at a time.

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.

Fae @ 11 Months

This weekend has been full of family and events with Fae’s Baptism and my mother in laws’ retirement celebrations, but I am bound and determined to get this post up on time. Only one more to go after this. I can’t believe it.


Fae at 10 months.

The last 11 months with Fae has felt like everything is on fast forward. I don’t remember feeling that way with Gabriel and I wish things would slow down so I could savor the baby times more. Fae makes life with a baby so incredibly joyful.




See that vice grip on her arm? That is the grip of a mother who wants to get a picture of your cute headband, goddamnit. STAY STILL.

Because miss Fae is not staying still, she is RUNNING. She toddles away every change she gets on unstable tiny tiny tiny feet. Freakishly tiny feet. 3-6 month sized feet. But she is fearless. She falls, she loses her balance, she doesn’t care, she is GOING.


How many times can babies knock their foreheads on stuff, bruise and welt, before it starts affecting development? These are things I wonder with this tiny rocket launcher.


Crackers found under the table are way more delicious than any food left on her tray. Any toddler or puppy can tell you that.



This months we also had a second bout of Hand Foot and Mouth! My favoritest friend in the whole world! It was a mild case and she just had sores in her mouth and along the edges of her diaper and on her lower back. But! It still meant a week of sleepless nights, blistered sores, calamine lotion and a super pissed baby.




Gabriel and Fae’s relationship continues to grow and watching it is magic. They genuinely play together. When we are not in the room they often play peekaboo or Gabe leads her around with his shirt and pretends to be a choo-choo train. I really didn’t expect this so soon, and it is fucking delightful.




This month we also sleep trained Fae! Which took some parental sacrifice as she was still in our room for that entire process. At first we thought if we were REALLY still and didn’t breath she would just give up and go back to sleep? But that was totally fruitless. Instead, for about 5 days whenever she would fuss in the night, Kamel and I would get up and leave and go lay on the couch and wait for her to put herself back to sleep.



The first night it took her about 20 minutes to go back to sleep, and that was the longest night. The second night she went back down in about 10 minutes, and in my desire to go BACK TO BED, I rushed the process, went in too soon, and had to leave again when she got hip to us being available for snuggles. Sorry kid, sort yourself out.




By the end of five days she was putting herself back to sleep so quickly that Kamel and I were falling asleep on the couch only to wake each other up after an hour plus, shuffling our tired butts back to bed.

This was the final step in moving her into Gabe’s room. Which I wasn’t totally willing to do, because I love having her with me. But, Kamel ripped off the band aid and moved the crib. We re-jiggered Gabe’s bedtime routine a bit (to the benefit of us all) and presto-changeo, we are a little over a week into room sharing, and it is going so much better than I thought!

11 months has been growth and change and preparing for my baby to be a toddler! Onward to the next big milestone!

IMG_3803 (1)

Fae @ 11 Months

Episode 17: Season Two, Nice to Meet You

…And we’re back! Season 2 of the I’m Better In Real Life Podcast starts right now! Hooray!

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.

Okayest Traveler

I’m still trying to figure out how to properly send you to my World’s Okayest Moms podcast without hyperlinking you to all of the places. But there are only so many hours in the day. I would love to be able to host TWO podcasts here, so you could listen in a post (as so many of you do), but I haven’t (meaning Kamel hasn’t) figured it out yet. Sigh. So for now, I will link you.

The specific podcast I am referencing is this one about traveling with tiny humans. And I think I’ve linked it here before. (There is a more recent one about co-parenting too! And how much I hate it, but it is also working out totally fine, but I hate it, but omg single mamas, you guys are killing it out there.)

I want to bring this traveling one back up again because I brain farted when we were podcasting and I didn’t tell the most horrible parenting story of my parenting life when I had the chance, even though I had planned to and saved my story for this one moment and EVERYTHING. And then poof. I dropped the podcast story-telling ball. Thank god there are three of us on there.

So now, I will tell you. The most embarrassed I have ever been as a mother happened in the San Francisco airport coming back from Miami. For full backstory, we had just gotten off a 5-6 hour flight, we had had to wake up the kids at there 3-4am. Gabriel had been very sad and very confused as to why we were making him get out of bed. He did not sleep on the plane. We were all sunsoaked and smelly and Fae eventually put on a pair of Gabe’s boxer briefs as pants while on our layover in SFO because her pants got too dirty and we had no extras for her to wear. Gabriel was living on a diet of yogurt bites and M&Ms. As a family, we were hanging on by a thread.

When Gabe gets over tired he becomes a maniac and acts out in ways that I do not understand. He becomes an anarchist. He will look at me like I’m not even there and act out for no reason at all. It is impossible to reign him in and it is totally the worst.

We had let him run free in the airport when we got there because he is 3 and had just endured 6 hours in a chair. And also because we had 2 hours to kill. BE FREE! We bought him a legit smoothie hoping he would drink it and eat some fruit. He had like 2 sips. We were sitting in these giant red chairs, per his request, and he was sitting and spinning and just kind of generally wandering around within my sphere of influence. The next table over from us was an older couple. The man was reading a non-english paper, and the woman was sitting across from him quietly. A few minutes later she got up and went somewhere else, leaving her section of the paper on the little coffee table thing in front of both her and her husband. In very literally a split second Gabriel reached over, grabbed the woman’s paper and flung it into the air as he walked past the table.

Let me let that soak in. He is walking past, grabs the section of the paper with his left hand, and flings it into the air without even looking at it as he walks by.

The sections separate and float down in different directions. What I believe are prayer cards that have been clearly removed from a very old book and that were folded into her section of the paper scatter.

And then I died.

I hiss in a loud voice, while marching over to grab my child, some form of parental scolding. The older man is just looking at me, saying nothing, with a face of total contempt and disbelief. Kamel is handling Fae and didn’t see what happened. I have to then explain to Kamel, breifly, what happened while I’m also explaining why he needs to keep Gabriel OVER THERE while I go back and run around picking up the paper and the prayer cards and trying to put them all back together again while I apologize profusely.

The man, my only audience, remains disgusted at my actions. Doesn’t utter a word, but watches me run around picking up all of the papers like a bad mother who can’t control her fucking kids.

I am still dying. It is a slow, terrible death.

When the woman comes back I hear him explaining to her what happened in a different language, while boldly gesturing in our direction. That’s when I shoo Kamel and the kids away. We need to go somewhere else, ANYWHERE ELSE.

Yes, yes children are an extension of our hearts living outside of our bodies. But they are also representatives of our arms and legs, and they move independently of us, so often to our extreme horror.

Look In The Attic

A few weeks ago I had the worst week. It was a bad week. No one died, but it was pretty shitty anyway. As all terrible weeks do, this one started with hope.

A house. A weird shaped, tall house. Next to a park, in an affordable area. It was cute. Had a den off the kitchen and three bedrooms upstairs. It had no backyard, but a patio and a deck. I imagined summers of sidewalk chalk and potted plants and Chardonnay. I knew we could and would get this house. We had room in the budget to blow everyone else out of the water, much like all the people who have just recently purchased homes have done to us. This was it, we were almost. Nearly 90 days from the beginning of this journey I saw the finish line.

I have found that one of the biggest differences between being a kid and being an adult is denial. When you’re a kid you don’t know all the crap stuff that could happen to you and it makes you fearless. The fearlessness is good, it creates risk takers which in turn creates opportunities. Except for the kids who film themselves jumping off roofs. I can’t help those people. But as an adult! As an adult, we know too much. We’ve peeked under too many rocks, we’ve heard too many stories, we’ve seen things. We have stuff to lose now. We feel the weight of our mortality.

But if adults all acted on that knowledge, the world would stop. It’s too scary, too risky, nothing is guaranteed! The unknowns are the worst, because they offer infinite possibilities. We all know the bad things that could befall us: We could get cancer, we cold die and leave our children without a parent, we could suffer a financial downfall, lose our jobs, drown in debt, things could not work out as planned. It’s rare that they do, but we make the plans anyway.

The only way to survive as adults is to live with a certain amount of chronic denial. We know the bad stuff is there, but we only take a glimpse, and then we shove it back up in the attic. We slide it back under the rock. We pretend we didn’t see it at all. We say those things happen to OTHER people, not to us. We tell ourselves they are just exaggerations and we move forward.

The only thing standing between us and that house was paying $250 and having a pre-inspection. As long as nothing was wonky with the title (has happened to us) and there weren’t any risky or very expensive fixes (has also happened to us) we would be good to go. The construction was relatively new – 1992 I think? – so I wasn’t overly worried. The appointment we had was at a weird time, so I went alone and Kamel went to pick up kids and battle rush hour traffic.

Everything was going well. A few windows that needed to be replaced, a screen door (no matter, I wanted to put in french doors anyhow!), a hot water tank that needed to be replaced, brand new hickory floors, solid roof, solid siding, check check check check.

The only thing left was to check the attic, where all the bad and scary things live. Except not really, you just want to make sure there is enough insulation and there isn’t any leaks or mold or what have you. We have yet to run into any of these issues. Those things happen to other people.

Everything was humming along until the inspector said: Bats.

Ha. Ha. I said. Jokes, I said.

No, really, he said. Bats. Four to six in that corner, another half dozen in the other corner. A colony.

So as I choked down tears and kept it together, I knew immediately: Bye house. Because you don’t inherit pests. Especially pests that are left to their own devices for over a month while you wait for the house to close. But, I worked the problem anyway. So, let me tell you what I know about bats.

A small colony is 10-20 bats. They expand like koi and their colonies will grow depending on the size of the space.

They are protected and cannot be killed or trapped.

That means they need to be shooed away and then the spaces where they can get in need to be sealed.

The spaces don’t need to be any bigger than the size of a quarter.

It can be a process, as bats really like their homes.

Removing them could cost up to $1,000, not counting the insullation that will need to be replaced at $2/foot and the repair work on the roof and sides of the house to prevent them from getting in. If you accidentally trap a bat in your attic they will burrow into your walls trying to escape. They are very smart and crafty.

I also learned that there is no way I will buy a house that has tenants in the attic.

This may seem small, because this is not my house, and in so many ways thank god for that. But I really wanted it to be my house. I really wanted it to be done and we are not done. That part was an, “Are you KIDDING me?” moment. That was on Tuesday.

On Wednesday morning Kamel texted me that he was feeling like he might be laid off.

“But don’t worry, Lauren. We’re going to be alright.”

Let me tell you right now, that is not a text you send without some follow up. That is not a text you send and then wander into a meeting. That is not a text you send without some CONTEXT.

So I sat for 40 minutes checking my phone and reacting to spikes in my anxiety by thinking of other things, but knowing that bad things happen, that bats can be in the goddamn attic, that people lose their jobs, that the homes you spend years saving for and millions of hours looking for get put on hold sometimes because life happens. To other people, but not to me. Surely, NOT to me. With two kids, in this apartment with no air, this place has NO AIR, and a kitchen that is no longer big enough to even store all the food our kids EAT every week. Not to us.

But then when Kamel called me after 40 minutes and he said that yes, he had been laid off, I could not stop the tears. Because the roof had been ripped off and we were standing in that dark attic, bats and all.

What are we going to do?

I still don’t really know.

In that moment my brain fast forwarded to all the things we needed to figure out. First, email the real estate agents and put a hold on our search. Second… second?

Do we start talking about moving somewhere cheaper? Do we start strategizing pulling the kids out of daycare? What can we afford on just my income plus unemployment? How fast can Kamel turn this around?

Kamel applied for almost 40 jobs in that first week. And we were lucky because he had warning, they gave him a headsup to start looking even before his pay ran out. For that I am so grateful.

In the mean time, many of the things I know are there but choose to ignore are knocking on my door. “Hello? Lauren? We need to talk.”

I’m still telling them that no one is home. I need time to figure it out. When do we have to start moving on these changes? How much time do I have until the bats aren’t just in a house we didn’t buy, but are right here with me?