Friday, December 17, 2010


I will never forget the first time you spit up.

I was alone in the house. You were just a few days old. You were sitting in your chair when a tiny bit of BRIGHT ORANGE goop spewed from your mouth.

I promptly freaked out.

No, really. I panicked and called your dad, then he eventually called the doctor, as I was too shaken to speak. Then a few of your great aunts and uncles came to visit, and I collapsed into tears. You were definitely dying. My child was sick with some horrible pestilence that made you puke neon-orange.

I saved the bile-in-question on your onesie and brought it to your doctor's appointment that week.

Since that day? Dude, you have thrown up, oh, 865 million times. Today, I think you have spit up about 268 times alone. I don't think you will ever stop spitting up. I think we will dance together on your wedding day, and you will spontaneously puke on me. Hopefully you don't continue to grin at me sheepishly and then play with your vomit. That would be embarrassing when you are 30, son.

Here are a few things that are awesome about you:

1. When you wake up in the morning, you play in your crib. When I finally drag myself out of bed to come and get you, you are sitting up. You grin at me. And I laugh because your face is swollen with sleep, and you've got Flock of Seagulls hair. (You're welcome, dude.)

2. You will not stop licking the floor. You will not be fooled by substitutes, either.

* OK, so I've been trying for 5 hours to upload an ADORABLE video here. But the dang thing won't budge. Just trust me: HILARIOUS.

3. It's like you know Big Brother is watching you.

You are so wonderful, Hendrik. Sometimes when we put you to sleep for the night? We miss you. Despite that you spit up constantly, and you don't sleep, and you are not really that great in restaurants.

I think we'll keep you anyway.

You have brought more joy to our lives than we can ever adequately express. We lose our minds when you use your hands to crawl, when we see your brain working, piecing together new bits of information. We yell and cheer for you. You're doing it, Snooze!

Just know that we'll always be here, cheering for you. Supporting you. Loving you.

Bullz 4 Life,

Mommy and Daddy

Friday, December 10, 2010

HomeValley Runs on Dunkin'

For those of you keeping score at home, since my Starbucks boycott?

I have lost TWO pounds. In slightly over a week.

J will tell you I did not lose TWO pounds; that I can gain and lose two pounds in an hour depending on the size of the burrito I just housed... BUT: I have weighed myself twice, in the morning, and the scale has read two pounds lower than it has been for about three weeks.


I am wearing a pair of pre-prego jeans that I have not squeezed into in a year. To be sure, I am stuffed into them like an adorable sausage; but they zip and that is what matters in this life.

(Also? I have sworn off Dunkin' Donuts, as I am incapable of passing through their uber-convenient drive-through without ordering a vanilla creme donut.)

Hendrik and I are off to the mall. The last time I went shopping with this child, I called J and barked that if I ever DEIGNED to MENTION shopping with this child again, to slap me across my face and tell me to Wake up! Your kid is a terrible shopper! It is a suicide mission!

But I have bought approximately three gifts, and I'm getting a little nervous.

Merry Christmas, holy shit.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Book Club, Nerds!

Have you all finished Freedom yet?

I do need to discuss this with you. I found the beginning of the novel thrilling; the second half less so, as it collapsed somewhat under the weight of unspeakable melancholy. (Sounds like a page-turner, eh?) It is well worth reading, however, for the commentary on our society alone.

I was very intrigued to see author Jonathan Franzen on Oprah yesterday, as I was much more interested in what he had to say than the piece that preceded him. (Michael Jackson spent time hiding out with a New Jersey family? Snoozefest.)

I can't wait to dig into the after-show, book club Q&A here, but Franzen did say something on the actual program that struck me. When O asked about his creative process, he said he went to a quiet, dark, cold office. In this hole he has no phone or Internet access, and he just allows himself to be. He tuned out the noise, and allowed himself time with his thoughts, and eventually - over a nine-year span - the great American novel was born.

Watching the clip, I exhaled.

Would be very nice to tune out the noise, indeed.

Nursing Hendrik these past six months, I find myself isolated quite a bit. I've always got my phone by my side, and I am obsessively checking Facebook and The Huffington Post, for lack of anything better to do. I notice - quite alarmingly - that I've almost no attention span of late. I can't even get through a twenty-two minute sitcom on our DVR without attempting to do three things at once (browse status updates, play Uno, etc.).

I know I'm not alone. We are a culture obsessed with snippets of information (*shakes fist angrily at Twitter*) that we devour like candy. Music, movies, popular media, entertainment news shows: they've all got an incredibly short shelf-life. And yet, I am paralyzed with fear that I might be left behind. That I might learn about something too late; how very different my life would have been, had I not learned of the Tony Parker/Eva Longoria "sexting" scandal the moment it broke!

Do I need to tell you where I'm going with this? This New Year's? I'm checking out, to check back in, ya dig? I'm going to strive to be more present in my own life, and not worry about what's going on in yours. Did you know that I dream in status updates? True story: a few weeks ago, I had a dream that I was on a non-stop flight to Paris when the plane had to take a detour to Mozambique. I got to swim in a crystal blue ocean with giant sea turtles (why sea turtles?) and all I could think about - in my DREAM - was how I would word the status update. And think of the comments that would roll in!

Er, I think we can all agree: it's time for me to unplug a bit.

That said, O chose her next book club selection yesterday, and how appropriate:


Like Oprah, I've never read Dickens. I am such a shitty intellectual, y'all. So this holiday season, I'll be curling up with some hot tea and some old school Chuck. (And continuing to blog my adventures, kids. This is a Facebook, other Internet-y things-specific boycott.)

Homevalley: out.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Far Better to Give Me Presents So I Will Shut Up Already.

J: And as I understand it, we're not exchanging gifts this year?


J: We're not getting anything for each other. This year.

HV, spinning: J! I returned the Coach bag, remember? I mean, you can get me something little, man! Something thoughtful?!? We don't have to spend any money... but like a freakin' 13.1 magnet for my car, or something like that? Jesus.

J: Of course! I mean, I am absolutely getting you something small and thoughtful. This year.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Beer Him.

It took H and I FORTY-FIVE minutes in line to return a tote to the Coach Factory store today... It really serves me right for buying it - albeit $100 cheaper than listed at Amazon - along with another Coach bag last week at another Coach Factory store. Mommy got greedy breathing in all that intoxicating leather.

(It must be noted that there was a Starbucks directly across from the shop today. It took all of my will power, dudes.)

So let's all forget our troubles and our screaming, mucus-y babes for a moment to have a drink with a decidedly-less snotty, happier child, mmmkay?

Cheers, y'all!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Cold Turkey

Remember when I ran that half-marathon, and I was running a shit-ton of miles each week training?

Well, apparently, training does not exactly melt the pounds away.

My weight is actually creeping back up... Five pounds up from my lowest point, to be specific. Unacceptable, guys. I have these really soft, supple, tailored designer jeans that I saw myself squeezing into again before 2011.

And now, ain't no way that's gonna happen. (I'll stop you right there: I don't think this is muscle-gain. Nothing is fitting better, and mah face! With the puffiness!)

I have made no secret of my ridiculous sweet-tooth... which only seems to intensify as the days grow shorter and the temperature cooler. Lately, however, I have been having a love affair with Starbucks.

Oh, Starbucks. I love everything about you. The aroma of fresh-brewed, overpriced espresso drinks. Your seasonal fare (the peppermint mocha! The peppermint white chocolate mocha! The caramel brulee!); your morning buns. Your decadent cranberry bliss bar, that is, in fact, blissful.

I love the atmosphere in our local Starbucks: the indie music playing softly above the din, the hipsters and business people alike typing furiously on their laptops, or perhaps just perusing a novel. It's so inviting - so relaxing - that I can't help but drift there when Hendrik and I are out for a morning walk, thereby negating our exercise, upping my caloric and sugar intake significantly, and denting our bank account.

Relaxing, indeed.

Even a tall, nonfat, decaf caramel brulee with no whip contains 240 calories, plus a whopping 38 grams of sugar. Combine that with a morning bun (350 calories and 19 grams of sugar) or a cranberry bliss bar (about 280 calories), and I've added nearly 600 calories and 60 grams of sugar to my diet before the day has even begun.

And if I spring for the nonfat peppermint white chocolate mocha with light whip and the iced lemon pound cake? 990 CALORIES and 124 GRAMS OF SUGAR.

If I visit an average of three times per week, I'm looking at an additional 1800 - 2970 calories per week - nearly one to two day's worth of calories!

I think we can all agree that Starbucks is making me chubby.

Monetarily, I probably spend an average of $7 per visit. That's $21 per week, $84 dollars per month, and $1008 per year.

Screw you, Starbucks, you diet-busting dark overlord of mocha-espresso goodness.

So here's the deal: I'm going to avoid Starbucks completely for the next two weeks, and see what it does to my waistline. I'm betting I'll lose a few L-Bs without doing anything else, and then I'll have to agree to get the unsweetened green tea on my infrequent visits. Sounds delicious, eh?

But imagine all of the mani-pedis a girl can get with an extra grand annually...

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Birthday Boy

Last week, J and I had the opportunity to get away together, just for a day.

On the road, I challenged him to name all of the states. I did the same. We each forgot two (he counted D.C.); we both missed Wisconsin. Obviously, we're a match made in heaven.

Then, I challenged J to name the state capitals. We played that lightning round together. We got 38, and made up a whole bunch.

We're stoopid.

But here is this man, y'all. This guy who humors my love for a good brain exercise now and again.

This man who drives his car at five miles per hour beside me as I run through the rough neighborhoods.

This man who surprises me with trips to Southeast Asia.

This man who squeezes my hand during turbulence.

This man who does the dishes.

This man who tries to use acronyms in Scrabble. (He also put down "Nam" during a recent match, claiming it was an important war, babe.)

This man who is one half this tiny boy we both adore, with the blonde hair and the blue eyes and the pitch-perfect J expressions.

This man who is the most self-possessed person I have ever met. I don't think he knows a thing about insecurities. (But I do think, this evening, he will ask me what "self-possessed" means. He has no qualms about asking for help with the unfamiliar.)

This man who told me recently: figure out what you want to be; then go be it.

I don't know what I did to deserve this profound happiness. I do know that we work at it, every day, and that at the end of every day, we will both here.

Working at it.

Happy birthday to my husband, the best decision I ever made.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tramps Like Us

And just like that?

Mama ran a half-marathon, chickens.

Ha! "Just like that." I saved y'all the details of my training. Some weeks were better than others. Some runs hurt like hell; others felt like I could have continued on for days.

When I started, I could barely jog a mile. I crawled around the local high school track, with J yelling, "Push yourself!"

"I AM!" I growled.

I was.

When I birthed Hendrik (really, I will tell you that story one day), I remember thinking: half-marathon? I can run an ULTRA-marathon! I am a fucking warrior.

And then I fought for every tenth of a mile, until it got easier.

The change is gradual. One day, your lungs feel like fire as you begin your fifth lap. The following week, you realize you've run several miles, unfazed.

One Sunday, your long run is an insurmountable THREE.

Another Sunday, weeks and weeks later, you run 10.2. And you don't die.

The half meant a lot to me. It was nearly six months to the day after I gave birth to my son. I am proud of the physical accomplishment. Running also became very spiritual for me; I would trot along Kelly Drive and tell myself: I run for the crunch of the gravel beneath my feet. I am so thankful that my legs are strong. I'd use the time to reflect. I thought. I wrote blog posts I never had the time to transcribe.

Most importantly: I finished something I started.

When Hendrik was born, I vowed to do better. To be better. And that begins with being a woman of my word.

I accomplished that on Sunday. And because of that, each of the 13.1 miles I ran were filled with joy. I was thinking: I'm doing this! Me!

I've never been an athlete. And I. Was. Runnnnnnnnnning!

I'd like to thank the Academy, but most importantly: my amazing husband. The one who encouraged me each day; who - thanks to road closures - dropped me in the more questionable neighborhoods in Philly, and followed me with his blinkers on until I reached safer ground so I could be sure to get my miles in. The man who forced my family to be there to share in my moment; the man who stood on the course by the finish line snapping my photograph; the man who didn't balk when I ordered the eggs benedict and the brioche french toast at brunch.

His selflessness humbles me. I am eternally grateful.

I did it, you guys. And I feel weightless.

What's next?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Five Months

Last weekend, we braved the open road and took you to Aunt Eden's wedding in Bethel, Maine.

Oh, sweet baby. It did not go well.

I had spent so much time agonizing over the actual logistics of the car ride. I decided it was impossible for you to make the nearly ten-hour trip in one day; so we opted to split the trip on the way up (you seemed to enjoy White River Junction, VT), and on the way home (you were fairly indifferent to Plainville, CT).

The thing is? You did great in the car. You took looong naps. I read you my new favorite book, Chester's Way (a present from Nona about a charming little mouse with OCD), sang Parachute Express songs to you, and just generally entertained you as we careened along. I only spent half of the time in the backseat with you, and you only fussed minimally. You were thrilled to stretch your legs at rest stops, and were perhaps the cutest damn pumpkin in the history of the world in Kennebunkport, Maine.

But when we were there, at the gorgeous ten-room ski villa?

Really wasn't your idea of a good time.

Dad and I have noticed that despite your charming ways with new people - often a stranger's warm smile will stop a crying jag instantaneously - you do not enjoy large crowds. I think you get overstimulated very easily, and since you are so deliciously adorable, the masses are usually all up in your grill, cooing and clapping and doing everything they can to get you to giggle.

There comes a point, my man, when you have had ENOUGH. And you make it clear, in no uncertain terms, that you wish to be leaving. NOW. YESTERDAY. GET ME THE HELL OUT OF DODGE, PARENTS, FOR THE LOVE OF LIONEL.

And so it went on wedding day. (Another pleasant discovery on the trip was that you haven't a clue how to nap in a crib.) Dad and I took you on a two-hour car ride through Grafton State Park, and you slept for most of it. We congratulated ourselves that you had gotten plenty of shut-eye, and would thus be positively angelic by go-time at 4 PM.

We kept you sequestered in our room (calm was the order of the day), and at 3:20 you bestowed upon us a POOP so great - so spectacular, my son - that we could only laugh as we yelled and tossed you about and declared this POOpocalypse. You were finally placed in the tub for the second time that day; your onesie was cut off of you as if you were being prepped for emergency surgery, and the sheets and floor were subsequently sanitized.

Praise Jesus you were not yet in your wedding finery. There would have been no way on earth to save your three piece suit from that onslaught.

When we were finally all presentable - you fussing and whining like any reasonable five-month old in a strange place in a monkey suit - you puked on the altar. And I lost it a little. This is a nightmare, I declared, throwing up my proverbial hands.

Your granddad rushed over with a paper towel just then, and brought me back down to earth. "This is not a nightmare. A nightmare is a sick child..." I relaxed a bit, thanked God for a healthy baby, and settled in for the ceremony. "It's okay if he cries during," said my father-in-law. "He's our grandson."

Cry you did, Hendrik. Lucky for us, Aunt Margie took you in a back room, where only we could make out your siren-like wails as Dad and I read "The Art of Marriage" for Aunt Eden and new Uncle John.

Later, in your warm fleece PJs, you pulled it together so that I could enjoy the toasts and even dinner (thanks to a very kind caterer - it really does take a village). We danced and played, and you charmed the crowd until it was time for bed. At 8:30, I was back at the party, monitor in one hand, prosecco in the other.

By 9:30, you were wailing once again. Your dad went. Something about your cries, though, weren't run of the mill. Your second tooth was pushing through; perhaps it was the teething? The overall discombobulation? The constant stream of people and noise and newness?

We knew the wedding was over for us. Dad and I took turns holding you, rocking you through the worst of it. I finally booted up my laptop and put on Baby Einstein. By 11:30, you were finally asleep. We could hear the guests on the dance floor, shouting the words to Sweet Caroline.

And though I love me some Neil Diamond, kid? I love you and your dad just a little bit more.

Happy Five Months, Hendrik. I love you for saving me the hangover, for never letting me get complacent, and for making us a family.

Friday, November 05, 2010


Party people!

Here I am. It's been like a month. I don't know why. I am just settling into my new life, and pondering the existential ques-

And... my kid is up. This isn't me being cute. Hendrik refuses to nap at home, in his crib. He crazy. He wakes up the moment he's placed gingerly in his crib AND WAILS. The moment you pick him up to comfort him, he smiles at you, puts his hands on your cheeks, and attaches his mouth to your face like a mollusk, whilst cooing. It is wildly adorable, the cheeky bastard.

We're working on this.

And because I can't stomach the one-hand type, I bid you adieu for the moment. I leave you with this.

Aaaaannndddd... boom goes the dynamite.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Live to Tell.

Oh. Oh, you guys.

I have. A tale. To tell.

You may want to sit down for this one.

Last Friday, Snooze and I hosted the Yoga Moms at our crib. You remember the Yoga Moms? I had a fantastic prenatal yoga experience; and I'm thrilled that we have formed our very own mama's club. We've gotten together as a group three times thus far; I've also gone walking and had coffee with a few of the ladies individually. It's nice that we're all in the trenches together.

On Thursday night, I cleaned and straightened the house. I even baked zucchini bread! Early the next morning, Hendrik and I dashed to Dunkin Donuts for some additional treats. I managed to have us both fed, bathed, dressed, and expertly coiffed before the first guest arrived promptly at 10 AM.

We hosted eight moms and nine babies, and the gathering was a smashing success. Our friends were gone by 1 PM, and I straightened up a bit before heading out for a walk on the glorious fall afternoon. H and I ended up at Starbucks (as we do), and my little man napped throughout. Back at home, I fed the babe and he drifted peacefully back to sleep (a banner nap, indeed!), and I let him snooze on the Boppy, eagerly picking up Freedom again and feeling sublimely content.


I saw something out of the corner of my eye. A flutter of movement. I looked up, suspecting a stink bug, as I'd seen quite a few in the past several weeks.


A tiny gray mouse. MEANDERING across the fucking living room. As if he owned the place. He didn't even have the common decency to scurry. Feival just walked casually to the corner to my left, unaware (or smugly satisfied?) that he had terrified me to MY VERY CORE.

Hendrik was still dozing peacefully - I'd had the good sense not to scream and traumatize the both of us - and I deftly lifted him, shooting out the front door via the couch faster than you can say FEMALE CLICHE.

And there we sat, we two. He woke up happy and playful as my heart spasmed in my chest. And there we sat, for about 35 minutes, when J finally arrived home and I bombarded him with the devastating news.

He was none too happy to deal with an hysterical wife immediately upon getting home from work. Annoyed, he stood in the kitchen as I lingered in the doorway (I had no shoes on, for the love of Pete!) and shouted: "I can't lie to you."

"You knew?" I stage-whispered.

"My parents saw something a month ago. But how could I tell you? I can't even put a trap where you can see it!"

Devastated, I attempted to process my new reality.

A mouse. Walking freely about our home. Whizzing past our baby as he rolls around the floor. A fresh wave of horror as I thought: what if he's not alone?

I know, you guys. The drama, right? But I've been afraid of rodents for as long as I can remember. My grandparents had three cats when I was a little girl, as well as an expansive backyard. There was always a dead mouse waiting at the front door to welcome us home. My grandfather - not squeamish - would grab the vermin by the tail, swing it once for good measure, and plop it in a clear plastic baggie. He laughed maniacally while performing this task, chasing me around the foyer. At least, that's how I remember it.

Then there was the time I sat in my very own apartment - the first and only time I lived blissfully alone - and heard them in the kitchen. Eating my Tostitos. I called the landlord to tell her, and then never set foot in my kitchen again. That's not really an exaggeration; I would go into the fridge, but never cooked or opened a cabinet until I could get the hell out of there.

And now: a thirty year-old wife and mother, run out of her home by a mouse.

The three of us ventured out that night (stopping for traps of course), and when we arrived home, I felt slightly less sick. "You have to continue to live," J told me seriously, as if I had been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

When Hendrik was asleep, we cracked open a bottle of red and settled in to watch the Phillies game. I was babbling about something when I saw J's eyes flicker towards the kitchen.

"Uh huh," he said in response to my last statement. "Hey, I hate to tell you this, but your friend is in the kitchen right now."


"Oh my God, J!" I screeched, standing on the couch. "Is this the BALLSIEST mouse you have ever encountered?!?"

All of the lights were on. J and I were talking loudly. The television was blaring.

And that arrogant fucker just trotted around our kitchen. LIKE HE OWNS THE JOINT!

I wondered how I might continue to live. I mean: seriously.

On Saturday night, I arrived home from my sister-in-law's fabulous bachelorette party around 12:30. LIKE I WENT INTO THE KITCHEN, DUDES. I got upstairs as fast as my heels would allow, and then I heard a distinctive snap. I assumed it had come from the basement, but honestly; I don't want to know.

The next day, J confirmed that we had caught a mouse. The mouse? It is not for me to know.

What I do know? I have vaccuumed TWICE in the last three days, which is probably more than I have vaccuumed in the last three months. This house will remain spotless. Also? Hendrik and I announce ourselves before walking into any room. Typically by stomping my feet, and yelling, "VERMIN! DO NOT TRIFLE WITH HENDRIK AND ME! WE WILL DESTROY YOU!" in a clipped English accent, which H seems to enjoy. (A yoga mom pointed out that I may be teaching my son that this is the proper way to enter a room, which is very hilarious.)

And I know you might think me crazy, Internet, but perhaps there is a reason for this. What kind of woman do I want my son to know? A frazzled, frayed lady, afraid of a mouse? Or a ballsy mama, who - when J is away for an evening in the very near future - will don a hazmat suit, goggles, and Dad's work boots to annihilate these mofos! Or, at least be able to pick up a trap and put it in a plastic baggie.

And maybe even swing it once - laughing maniacally - for good measure.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stay Tuned.



I know, I know. Where have we been?

Busy. Just look:
We have also done a bit of this:
And then, there was the time we did this:

How am I supposed to write in the midst of all this foot-chomping adorableness?
As you may suspect, I have also been Thinking. Major self-introspection. And why? Nobody wins when I think. It's especially taxing pour moi.
Hank and I will fill you in tomorrow; for now, it's Baby Einstein and bed. This dude's got a tooth to push through his tender little gums this eve, and we're all mentally preparing for the onslaught.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Snoozer Takes Manhattan!

New York!

Shit, NYC is DIFFICULT with a baby.

But we had a lovely time, thank you.

The Snooze humors his mama for a brief face pic at Taco Taco on the East Side.

Damn! This city is loud. But I will do my best to be heard over the din, y'all.

We took Hendrik to the park where we got engaged.

M. Gell-Mann. Please forgive the typo, M.

The exact scene of the crime. (I was ridiculously excited, btw.)

Koos's store on Madison Avenue. (Shout out!)

My boys.



Tuesday, September 21, 2010

BAB Blah Blah BlazZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Hendrik, Overlord of the Manor. Will destroy you nomnomnom.

Remember when I told you the Body after Baby Project would continue?

Dudes, I lied.

Not intentionally or anything, but lo, I am so, so tired.

So very tired.

It's 7:13 AM. Can I paint you a picture of my night?

Babe went to bed early-ish, at 7:30 PM.

That dude was up at 10:30, 12:30, 3:30, 5, and finally 6:30, when I brought him into bed with me and put on Sesame Street. Sesame Street! There was a time when my children were going to watch no television. I don't even know who I am anymore.

Um, so? The BAB project? It is totally still happening over here, but I can't update you with any regularity. Most people hated it anyway, and the blogger who began the deal? She quit like 8 weeks ago. None of us can hack it because we're all so sleep-deprived.

What else? I am running. Trying to run. I am achy though. My limbs hurt. My shoulders ache. I continue, even though my runs often morph into run/walks.

I fell down my front steps the other day. My pride and my pedicure were severely damaged, but no insomniac four-month old babes were injured.

Hendrik? He's watching Baby Van Gogh in his Rainforest Jumperoo. He loves this shit. He squeals with delight at Vincent Van Goat and all of his colors. I pray he is actually learning, because Sweet Jesus, this child is high-maintenance. A mama has to put you down once in a while, little one.

Finally, J - did I spill beer on your laptop? Or was that you? It smells a little like a frat house. I love you, by the way.

We're going to New York this weekend. H's first foray into Manhattan! I hope I can stay awake for it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Four Months: Partners in Crime

Yesterday, I took you to your first Gymboree class. Oddly enough, I'd actually been to Gymboree before. It was 2006, and I was in Syracuse on business. An associate and I had just finished up lunch at Bangkok Thai when he informed me his wife and new baby were next door taking a class. We entered to say hello and we observed women dancing around with their babies, singing goofy songs and shaking them on a giant parachute.

I thought: what the fuck?

In 2010, I think very differently.

Yesterday, I couldn't find the Gymboree. The class is actually in a church basement, and we got very, very lost. I finally located the Armenian Catholic building, and we dashed inside, about 15 minutes late for a 45-minute class.

"Ah well, man," I said to you as you sat mumbling in the back seat. "Thirty minutes of Gymboree is better than nothing, right?"

And so we walked into a class already in progress, and I yanked you out of your car seat and ran in to join. I gave the instructor a sheepish smile, and quietly apologized for our tardiness. She asked our names, and then: 'Do you have a blanket for him?"

I ran back across the room where I had thrown the diaper bag, and praise Jesus I pulled out a receiving blanket.

We ran back to join the crowd again, when I noticed suddenly that I was the only mama with bare feet.

"Oh - are we supposed to have socks on?" I whispered to a kind-looking mom next to me. She nodded. "They're in the back."

And so we ran back to where the car seat and the diaper bag where strewn, and grabbed the goddamn socks. The kind-looking mom offered to hold you while I clumsily put them on and then attempted to smooth out your blanket on the mat.

I didn't know any of the songs or procedures at Gymboree. I self-consciously eyed up the other mothers, looking for cues. At one point our instructor pulled out a giant mirror and placed it in the middle of the floor for tummy time, and you promptly spit up all over it. "Not cool, buddy," I whispered, giggling. I had no burp cloth to clean you up with, so I removed your bib to do the job. You didn't really stop spitting up, though, and eventually your blanket was covered in spew.

Oh man, kid: I am sorry to have embarrassed you on your first day of school. I swear I will be better-prepared when you start kindergarten.

But despite all my fumbling? You giggled and laughed the entire class. You gaped at the other babies, and you grinned wildly as I pretended to know the words to the songs, and waved Gymbo, the scary-ass puppet clown in your tiny face.

And I laughed right along with you, and didn't mind that I was making a fool of myself, or that 26 year-old me would have been mortified on my behalf. You and me, H. Partners in crime. You jump, I jump, ya dig?

Happy Four Month Birthday, sweet, sweet boy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Citizens of the Internet, as you are well-aware, my love for Oprah knows no bounds.

And yesterday, as I watched the first episode of the farewell season, I decided that starting today (or, yesterday, but you get it), I will live like OPRAH.

Consider it my new mission in life.

O danced onstage with John Travolta (who looked a little like a wax figure, but we will forgive him that since he is effortlessly charming and adorable), and early on in the hour a woman in the audience discussed how a moment on the show changed her life. John T. had given a heartfelt toast on O's 50th birthday, in which he said something akin to: the world is better because you are in it, and this woman decided in that moment that she wanted people to say the same of her. So she went to Africa and volunteered and built impoverished African babies a home.

And watching this moment, about that moment, I thought:

Me too.

I want the world to be better because I am in it. I like to think that my work as a mother is moving me towards that goal (Ambassador Hendrik, anyone?), but there needs to be more.

I'm still cogitating, but during Oprah's farewell season, I will become a better HomeValley.

And now, here is my baby:

Believe you me: he's awesome.

He's also 14 pounds, 15 ounces, and 26 inches long. Dang!

Friday, September 03, 2010

99 Problems

J took off from work today, so last night he relegated me to the guest bedroom. His plan was to take care of the babe all night, and allow me to get the first full night sleep I've had... well, since Hendrik was born.

I was touched by his offer, and immediately agreed, only to have second thoughts at bedtime.

"It's fine," I told him. "I'll sleep in the room with you, and you can just take care of him when he cries."

"Absolutely not," sayeth J. "Get lost."

And then: I cried.

I don't know why I cried. I wasn't sure I could renege my motherly duties, I s'pose. I wasn't going far (just a floor above my boys). But despite my continued histrionics, J finally closed our bedroom door in my face and I crept begrudgingly to my quarters for the night, where I read and played on my brand new iPhone, and finally - at 11 - fell asleep.

I woke at five to pump. By seven my baby was wailing for his mama. Such is life.

But if you are tired of my belly-aching, saddle up for some of Hank's. This boy's got it tough some days as well.

Happy Friday,y'all.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Front Porch and A Time Machine

Most days, H and I spend a lot of time on our front porch. Always the outdoorsman, Hendrik is comforted by the heat and the sounds of the neighborhood. He delights in the trash trucks and the dogs barking; even our plum-colored address placard makes him giggle. I love the time we spend out there.

I tell Hendrik lots of stories, usually about different adventures J and I have had. I'll describe Hagia Sophia in Turkey; or how terrified I was driving through the Jordanian desert after nightfall. I've got to talk to the kid about something, right? Plus, talking about past trips is oddly comforting. I tell myself that soon, we'll all travel again.

Yesterday morning, I regaled my little man with tales from Mama's old job. I told him that I used to wake before Dad - usually around 4:30 - and in no time I'd be off to the airport, streamlined luggage and computer bag and purse in hands. I told him what it was like to be a frequent flyer, and about the different cities I'd visit. The hotels I frequented; and the room service! Oh, the room service was exquisite, my dear boy. And mama would be deliciously self-indulgent, reading books and sipping wine and watching dreadful reality TV.

Suddenly, I was terribly sad.

I realized I'll never have that kind of freedom again. I've swapped one life for another, and now I am a different version of myself. A patient, more selfless version, yes. But also? A woman who is largely stationary.

I'm not used to staying still. I'm adjusting.

I'm officially unemployed next week. As I'm wrapping things up at work, I had to review my old credit card statements to make sure my expenses were in order.

Old AMEX statements, guys? They are actually a time machine.

I relived my life beginning at age 25, which, incidentally, included LOADS of Starbucks, Avis rental cars, Marriott hotels, US Airways flights from LaGuardia (you beautiful, dilapidated airport, you), and Hoyt Cab cars all around NYC.

There were other recurring charges too: Bangkok Thai Restaurant in Syracuse, NY, where the congenial owner comes out each afternoon to greet patrons: "Hello! Rock and Roll!"; Acapulco's in Beverly, Massachusetts, my favorite Mexican spot; Bully's in Manhattan, across the street from my old office at 44th and 3rd; several fabulous restaurants in Providence; beachside bars in Newport, Rhode Island. A few errant charges from Go Wasabi, my sushi joint in Astoria. And a million Amtrak tickets, destinations beginning and ending throughout much of the Northeast.

It feels like a million years and a different woman ago.

It's difficult for me to say good-bye to my job for many reasons; not least of which is bidding a fond farewell to the habitual wanderer I once was. And if I was going back, y'all? I'd likely be kicking and screaming, bemoaning leaving my baby when he needs me so much, when he's still up four times in the night, when each and every nap is still a battle.

I'm focusing on the positive, not least of which is sitting on our front porch, telling stories to my little boy.

Monday, August 30, 2010

BAB Project: Week 10 - SAB. O. TAGE.

There is nothing like feeling fancy about your weight-loss and then promptly eating a floppity-jillion calories in a week, all: Look at me! I can lose weight! I should probably polish off this Nutella and then have a date night with J in which I consume THREE alcoholic beverages and garlic bread and fried green tomatoes and pasta with seafood in a rich pesto sauce and espresso and almond cheesecake! I am sure this will help the pounds melt off!

Ugh. I want to bitch-slap myself.

On Monday, I weighed 153.2. If you are playinga along at home, that's a one-pound gain. This morning I weighed in at 151.6, but then after breakfast weighed 152.8 (damn you, Honey Nut Cheerios). So, in summary: still chubby. This week was a wash.

I've been thinking a lot about my relationship to food these days. Why do I eat more than I need? Why do I crave sugar? It struck me that food is one of the only remaining pleasures I have these days... that is, something just for me. I can't really drink much; even if I am dumping my milk, you can't be hammered when you're responsible for a tiny nugget. I can't flit off to the bookstore and luxuriate in the stacks for endless hours. I can't hop on a flight to Colorado, just because. I can't blare the radio in my car; when H and I roll about town, we're typically listening to the sound of a vaccuum on blast. I can't even just pop out to the mailbox anymore. Popping out - when J is at work - requires very careful planning around naptimes and nursing.

So what can I do? In the evenings, when H is sound asleep - gearing up to wake FOUR TIMES A NIGHT BUT THAT IS ANOTHER POST CHRIST ALMIGHTY - I can eat. I can smother Nutella on everything. I can polish off my trail mix and my strawberries and my dried mango slices, and then head back to the fridge for some frozen, chocolate-covered coconut milk bars.

It strikes me that this relationship has surreptitiously crossed into unhealthy terrain. Suddenly, food is like a no-good ex-flame, only texting me for late-night booty calls. It's really time to re-read my copy of He's Just Not That Into You and pump the brakes on this harmful new habit. Ya dig?

My mother came over on Monday afternoon, just returned from a three-week vacation in Florida. "You look good, Melis," she said to me, and my mother doesn't say anything she does not mean. "You've lost weight."

"I haven't," I said, rolling my eyes. "I'm still 15 pounds away from where I started, which isn't even my ideal weight."

"Well, I never got back to my pre-pregnancy weight after having you."


"Noooooooooooo," I moan. "I won't allow myself to not get back."

And the REAL work begins.

Half-marathon training began this week. Lord have mercy. I also tried the 30-Day Shred, which I found surprisingly easy. (Anyone can handle 3 minutes of abs, right?) I'm also trying to get out and walk with Hendrik as much as possible.

Determination, thy name is HomeValley.

Emmys Dis Lost, But Look at Me Liking Jimmy Fallon!

Admittedly, I am tearing up watching Modern Family accept the Emmy for Best Comedy Series. It's a seriously phenomenal show; and did you see Manny's outfit? That little man is sharp.

A few notes:

  • Stop nominating The Office, Academy. Let them work for it again, for JC's sake. This last season reeked.

  • I am sure Mad Men is a fantastic show. I bet it's smart, sexy, and cleverly-written. (I also bet it's extremely misogynistic, but I've never seen it, so I must withhold judgment.) And? This Jon Hamm person is incredibly rugged and handsome. But... how could you shun Lost, Academy? What did Damon and Carlton ever do to you? Has any show in the history of television garnered such a voracious and loyal fan-base? This is a show that seeped into the hearts and minds of viewers. It was stunning, and you did the actors (Matthew Fox, Terry O'Quinn, and Michael Emerson) a grave disservice. For shame.

  • Glee! And best opening for any awards show ever? Or was that just me? (I deduct points for Kate Gosselin's involvement. Sweet Jesus, that woman has no comedic chops. I wish Tina Fey would have sucker-punched her. Now that's funny!)

  • Betty White! A friend of a friend believes that with every Golden Girl passing, Betty just gets that much stronger. That woman is a force, y'all. I want to be that relevant at 88.

  • Ricky. Gervais.

  • I am done with True Blood, but Alexander Skarsgard is delicious. (And a Swede! This makes him my new boyfriend.)

  • I do love me some Jim Parsons. Bazinga. J and I are forever trying to convince people to watch The Big Bang Theory. I don't know anyone who does, but it is certainly a great time.

Did y'all watch? Thoughts? Anyone want to consider writing a pilot with me? I think we should be there next year. If Kate Gosselin gets to go? I want in.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Let Me See That Hendrik Roll

This child is a rollin' fool, y'all. He also decided two weeks ago that he will only sleep for 2 - 3 hour stretches through the night, which just goes to show you: never boast about your son's superior sleeping habits. The sleep gods will smite you.

So herezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

So here is a video of mah little nugget rolling over. He is very nimble and athletic. And his mama is very high-pitched about milestones, so please to turn down your volume.



Monday, August 23, 2010

BAB Project: Week 9 - Schwimmer and Me.

This week I had a sex dream about David Schwimmer.

I don't know. I have no excuse for this.

And really - we didn't get too far. I was actually Jennifer Aniston in the dream, and Schwim and I were dating in real life. The reason I disclose this at all is because we were about to get at it, when Schwim took off his shirt to reveal spectacularly-sculpted washboard abs.

"Whoa!" I exclaimed, as Jennifer Aniston. "Dave - how did you get that body?"

To which David Schwimmer replied: "I cut out sugar."

Methinks this is quite possibly the most boring "sex" dream of all time. (Though I am eyeing Ross appreciatively on TBS since. Meow!)

Yep, I am obsessed with fitness, but that didn't stop me from ordering a rootbeer float yesterday at brunch. (For real: how good does that sound right now?)
This morning I weighed 152.2! I've lost 6.2 pounds so far. Still not eating any meat (save fish), and changes I've noticed in two weeks? My skin looks better. I can't directly correlate this with our new diet (I have been using Lumene night cream for a few weeks now), but my skin is clearer and noticeably less red and ruddy. To wit: I didn't use foundation on Friday, and I wasn't horrifying to gaze upon. So there you go.

I've been slowly easing back into running, but let me tell you, it's a grueling slog around the hills of Manayunk. The humidity is unpleasant, and the fifteen extra pounds on my frame likely add to my discomfort.

But I'm out there. At least I'm getting out there.

I invested in some new workout gear from Target. I only had two sports bras that fit, and I figured I could use a few more to avoid having to wash every other day.

The real athlete in the family though? Hendrik, who learned how to roll over from back to tummy this week, and now does it all the DAMN time. With the milestones, buddy!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

BAB Project: Week 8 - We Don't Eat No Meat.

This week, HV is weighing in at a blistering 153 pounds! I've lost 5.4 L-Bs to date.

And I've got some goals now, people. Hear me out.
  1. Must be in the 140s by September 4th. This means I must lose at least 3.1 pounds by that date. Burrito-free for 17 days. The sacrifices I make.
  2. Must begin half-marathon training. To that end, I shall bore you all with weekly progress updates. The half is scheduled for November 21st. I know an adorably chubby blogger who has a looonnngg way to go.
  4. Continue new vegetarianism. For us, it works.
  5. Drink more water.

Cutting out poultry, pig, and cow has been a complete non-issue for J and me, which strengthens our conviction that we actually didn't eat a lot of meat, and can essentially take it or leave it. Further strengthening my resolve? I watched Food Inc. this week. YOWZA. (Aside: Netflix streaming video is the greatest invention since Netflix. Get on this, kids.)

So our meals consists of lots of fish and tofu and pasta and salad and beans. As I write this, I'm polishing off last night's leftovers (turbot, asparagus, and curry cous-cous). It hasn't been a challenge to plan meals yet, and I don't foresee it will be. There are many vegetarian and seafood options out there we haven't explored yet. (Tonight, for instance, I am making falafel.)

I took H for a long walk/jog this morning at Wissahickon Park. I do my best thinking when I'm exercising, and I do my best exercising when I am outside. Hendrik also loves his stroller; so I've got a wonderful work-out buddy these days. I feel like I've got my weight under control, and now I am just looking forward to the sweet day when I can fit into my jeans again.

Inside the Brain Of HomeValley. Be Afraid.

I think you all may be incredulous to learn how much mental energy I actually expend on this blog, as my most brilliant and hilarious posts rarely get published here. They’re mostly written in my mind; when Hendrik and I are strolling about town, or when I’m driving in the car. I make lists in my Evita journal about interesting topics as well, but they’ve often got a short shelf-life and soon become irrelevant, and there is always a load of cloth diapers that needs to be put in the washer, or taken out of the dryer, for that matter. (I really cannot stress enough how much I really, really miss procrastinating.)

I worry about site traffic, and followers. I worry about comments received and comments given. I fret about popularity and grammatical errors. I ponder fresh ideas – is this too personal? Not personal enough? Will this topic resonate? Is this funny? Am I funny? Have I lost the will to be funny? (Man, I was funny in 2008. You should totally read those archives.)

I compare myself to other bloggers. Constantly. I berate myself when a fellow writer’s post resonates, or if she makes me laugh aloud: damn, that’s good. I'll think. Why didn’t I come up with that?

And Twitter. Man, fuck Twitter. The pressure on that bitch is suffocating. Okay, I’ll begin. I’ve got 140 characters to share something funny. And in my mind?


(I also worry about the crickets.)

It occurred to me on Monday night that all of this? The constant BARRAGE of WORRY?

Unhealthy. And Unnecessary.

Because frankly, not that many of you are reading.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful. I cherish each and every man and woman that comes to this site, whether you visit every day, several times a day, or bi-annually. This is my corner of the Interwebs, and the fact that you are reading it? Brilliant. I thank you for that. Let's make out.

What I mean is… this is a really small corner of the Interwebs. Yet somehow, QITNM takes up MASSIVE residence in mah brain. And let me tell you: I do NOT have that much brain capacity to begin with. Plus, I think I am actually getting dumber by the day. Motherhood and vodka will do that a girl.

(Oh, and I am totally rebelling and am all – fuck you, blog! I will end a sentence with a preposition if I feel like it; and I REFUSE to feel bad about that too.)

I suppose what I am saying is just this: I need a little distance. Mental distance. I don’t want to shut down the blog. I don’t even want to stop posting regularly.

What I want is freedom from anxiety. My blog is making me anxious. It’s giving me the stink-eye from across the bar, silently judging every grammatically-incorrect sentence I type. It’s wondering where the funny is, and whispering that maybe I’ve lost it…

Or maybe that’s just me.

To sum up - rather anticlimactically, since none of you bitches are actually inside this brain (spoiler alert? Images of burritos, So You Think You Can Dance, and toned thighs abound) - I am giving myself permission to just write for moi. No more pressure. No more posturing.

I’ll just write what I know, and I hope you’ll like it. Hell, I hope you comment all day long, but I am no longer going to hit publish and wait anxiously for a windfall of comments. I’ve been waiting for that windfall for four years, and still it eludes me.

I’m just going to write openly, honestly; and attempt to fill my brain with other pursuits, like a half-marathon; a new career path; a Masters; and a beautiful family that could use a little more mental energy expended on actually writing grocery lists instead of forgetting the parmesan cheese EVERY DAMN TIME, and maybe sweeping the porch every once in a while.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Three Months Later

I blinked, and you were three months old.

This morning, you indulged me. You let me cradle you in my arms like a tiny baby (unheard of for months), and sing to you. (You really enjoy the Growing Pains theme, btw.)

We've come a long way, the three of us. The first time you spit up? I cried, then made Dad call the pediatrician because I was too shaken to speak. Then, I remembered that I had given you red-colored vitamins earlier that day, and you probably weren't spitting up blood.

Still, that's when I realized it.

I am going to worry about you - every day - for the rest of my life.

You should know that upfront. And, like I always remind you as we bounce along, singing songs and talking about your new world: please, just call me once a week when you are in college. Because I will be at home, with your dad, worrying.

Just... remember that.

Other things? You're hilarious, child. You won't go down in history as an "easy" baby, but that's why we like you, kid. If I had to predict your personality, based on traits you've already exhibited?

Strong-willed. Enthusiastic. Passionate. Inquisitive. Energetic. Excitable. Adventurous. Angry if you are not fed IMMEDIATELY.
How can I begrudge you these qualities? They are us.

J + HV = You.

Your eyes are exquisite - big as saucers and blue as the ocean, before BP. They dance when you smile and gurgle and coo. Your hair is dirty blonde, and thankfully you get more of it every day. Your brown mullet is still prominent. Your toes are your dad's. Everything else seems to be an interesting combination of the two of us. One moment you giggle and look exactly like me; the next, you furrow your brow and you are the spitting image of your father. You're a chameleon, little lord. And possibly a loner, Dottie. A rebel.

It is fantastic to see you learning, making sense of this place. You can grab things! You can roll over! You can gnaw on your fists and drowl with the best of them! (I am betting you'll have a tooth between four and five months.) You sing with me, and you have totally already said "mommy" and "I love you," but for some reason, no one believes your dad and me when we tell them this. Go figure.

Parenting is exhausting, man. We never eat a meal together anymore, as one of us is typically bouncing you. We don't get out alone anymore; we barely sit, ever.

But? This is precisely what we signed up for. The three of us. A team. An unstoppable rebel force. Every day with you is a gift, and we can't wait for the firsts yet to come: our first real vacation; your first foray into Manhattan. Your first words; your first steps; the first time you hug us and say "I love you."

We love you, H. More than we could have ever imagined. Happy birthday, sweet boy.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Things I Threw Away Today

J and I cleaned out my office today. Oh and cleaning? No easy feat with the Snooze Face. (Public Service Announcement to the Childless: You are not busy. You have never been busy. Please, don't think me an asshole. Just consider yourself warned. Now pour yourself a goddamn glass of chardonnay and get your ass on that couch. Watch Mad Men, for the love of Lionel. Just do it now, because if you ever have a child, YOU WILL NEVER SIT ON YOUR COUCH AGAIN. Love, HV )

(Oh, and True Blood sucks. Just take my word on that.)


Where was I?

A list, for my tired-of-jiggling-fussy-babies-and-shushing-them-loudly-in-their-ears soul.

Things I Threw Away Today, by HomeValley:
  1. Photos of kids who played orphans in our sophomore year production of Annie. Seriously, who the fuck were these kids? Why did I take so many useless pictures of them? Also? They are between ages 20 and 25 now. I hate those fucking kids.
  2. All of the letters from my senior year spiritual retreat. After about the fifth letter by some lovely girl I didn't remember, I tossed them. (Though not before reading a cheerful and succinct note from my algebra dance buddy. Shout out, Sarah K!)
  3. My old cell phones, after I stared at them in disbelief like Wha? I can't receive email on you? You are from the Stone Age, phones. Alas, one ancient Verizon flip-phone contained dirty text messages from J and a floppity jillion photos of Jesse Malin shows, plus J and me on our adventures in Manhattan and Queens. And then I was all Wha? J and I used to do it, and go to late-night underground rock shows? Again, I beseech you, childless people: get laid, attend concerts, and for God's sake - GET ON THAT COUCH.
  4. Floppy. Disks.
  5. 73889 playbills, though it pained me to do it. But J yelled at me when I threw the Titanic book in the save pile. And he's right, you know. That show had some balls having all those poor drowning third class folks singing about how they couldn't wait to make it to America.
  6. A lone cigarette in a burgundy pack from Italy. (But I totally need this! I whined to J. No, J said. You're a grown-up. You don't need to save smokes from your 1998 trip to Rome. DON'T I?!?!)
  7. A flyer from senior year of college in which - as Resident Assistant - I asked my homies to write me their "elevator horror stories" to make a case for repair to Resident Life. Then I remembered that people were always almost dying in our elevators, which what the fuck, Pace University?
  8. A flyer from a TKE frat party that claimed to be "the HOTEST party of the SEMSTER." Ahahahaha. Adorable, TKE.
  9. A note from my first grade teacher to my mother, claiming I was often "distracting" in class, not paying attention and scribbling notes during lessons. Shut up, First Grade Teacher.

Lessons learned? I am completely and utterly sentimental, and kind of a pack-rat. But as J reminded me: we're moving forward now.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

BAB Project: Week 7 - Fluctuation Nation.

Evening, chickens!

Where in the world has I been? H and I have been all over the place: the Jersey shore, Georgetown, and Clarksburg, MD. We're just such social butterflies these days - today we took a trip to dad's office for lunch, in which H wooed all the ladies - I haven't had a moment to write.

Don't worry though: I still find time to eat. (Modo Mio, I'm lookin' at you.)

So weight-wise, I stepped on the scale yesterday morning, and I weighed 153.8. Cheers! After a hearty dinner of whole wheat pasta and a tofu-zucchini-onion tomato sauce, I weighed 158.4. You might remember that weight from such numbers as THE BEGINNING OF THIS MOTHER EFFIN' PROJECT HOLY CHRIST.

The scale is lower today, but... dudes, I gots no idea.

Here's what's new this week:
  • J and I are vegetarians this month, except for fish. I'll let you know how that goes.

  • I registered for the Philly Half-Marathon. This means I better start training right quick.

  • I am deep in the world of Fidelity investments and Roth IRAs and rollovers and conversions. It has nothing to do with weight loss, but it blows just the same.

  • It's hot as hell in Philadelphia. I am THIS CLOSE to updating my Facebook status to reflect this fact. You know it must be serious.

  • Still on the fence with Twitter. It hurts my heart.

More tomorrow, loves.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

BAB Project Week 6 - I Totally Have 2 Week Fours. Meh.

First, what you are all really clamoring to hear about: MouseWatch 2010.



We've caught six of those motherfuckers. I am in denial that so many could have been actually living here; we live in a row home, and J and I think they are just gallivanting from home to home, cheeky little buggers. Each day, I hope and pray this horror will cease, that someday I shall be able to remove the yellow post-it note, and run the dishwasher again. (The detergent is under the sick. Blast!)

The silver lining is that they really can't get to our food, which is stashed in the higher cabinets. They seem to reside only under the sink and the drawer below the oven, which is REALLY a shame for the organic banana-walnut muffins I baked and devoured last week using a muffin tin housed BELOW THE OVEN.

Mmm... mouse turd muffins. Delish!

Oh! Before this rodent assault, J moved the toaster from a high cabinet to the lazy susan cabinet located between the sink and the oven. J is under the false impression that I will use this toaster EVER AGAIN IN LIFE.

Mmm... mouse hair English muffins!

Okay, this post is revolting. Apologies.

Moving on, I've lost a grand total of: .2 pounds this week! (Lo: I am stressed.) I am down 4.2 pounds in 6 weeks (the first post was actually the start of week one, blahbleenoonecares), and I'm okay with that. My BMI is currently 24.1, which is good. But according to Self magazine, a BMI between 18.5 and 22.9 means you may be 2.5 times more likely to age free of disease. So sign me up.

This week, I am going to register for the Philly Half-Marathon. I've been trying to run again, but it's difficult in this heat, and I loathe running on the treadmill. But hardcore training for the race will begin in a few weeks, and I am confident that the fitness boost will finally get my weight in check and I will see consistent results.

In the meantime, I am embracing my temporary curves. It's actually quite fun to shop in my own closet (I haven't seen these things in a year(s)), and make the larger-sized pieces work together. It is also fun to color-coordinate with H:

Preparing mah boy for a career in fashion, I also make him sit in his chair and help me sort through my closet. Sometimes he giggles, but lots of things are so tight on me he has to spit-up in distaste.

The one thing I really need help with is crushing my sugar addiction. Any advice - or clever sugar substitutes - for a mama?

Friday, July 30, 2010


Another spectacular new development this week: mouse turds. Spectacular.

I don't think I can justly articulate my all-consuming fear and loathing of tiny furry creatures, mice and rats in particular. Those tiny bug-eyed vermin strike terror in my soul, and so it went yesterday when I opened the cabinet beneath the kitchen sink to find three errant poops.

J was in the living room cleaning in preparation for his parents' arrival. I beckoned him wordlessly into the kitchen.

That MFer wasn't even surprised, you guys. Yeah, he said. I thought I saw some last week.


So he set the traps we keep in the cupboard (we've had a mice or two before, well in the past), and I shook my head at the universe. I mean, that is one straight-up fucking genius way to keep my ample ass out of the kitchen.

Around 8 last night, H feel asleep on my lap and J meandered into the kitchen. And he didn't return for a few minutes. When I crept towards the room he smiled guility.

What? he asked, grinning.

One down.

This morning, H was up bright and early, and he went downstairs with dad as I was throwing on my sweats.

You stay here, I heard J say to him. Daddy has to take care of something.

That's two.

And so we wait. In the meantime, I have this handy post-it placed strategically in front of the sink.


As in, remember not to open this door lest you see horror beyond your comprehension that haunts you for all eternity.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I had a dream last night I was running a 5K... Only I began the race wearing my orange flats.

"I can't do it!" I wailed to J as lithe runners breezed by me. "I forgot my sneakers!" I couldn't bear to look at his face, he was so disappointed in me. For me.

I was angry with myself. In the dream, I wondered if I will ever manage to finish what I start.

I woke up resolved.


Remember, back earlier this week, when I told you I was a parenting genius?

I'm a jackass.

Last night, it was J's turn for a night with the boys. We're both completely committed to keeping our sanity as we navigate first-time parenthood, so time away - alone or with friends - is of the utmost importance. We strive to make sure the other's solitude is well-guarded, which is actually a passage from Rilke that J's sister read at our wedding:

The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of their solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust.

So where was I? J = out.

"I'll be home by 8:30," he told me, reluctant to leave us.

"No - stay out until at least nine. H'll be asleep by 8:30, and I'll be on this couch with a glass of wine when you get back."

Ha. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Hendrik was extremely agitated last night. Nothing I did worked. He wanted to nurse or scream. There was no middle ground. I could barely eat my sad little dinner (pasta with jarred spaghetti sauce) as the poor child would not stay calm.

So I rocked him, and I nursed him, and I shushed him. I swaddled him and I nursed him and I shushed him. I put him on my chest facing the TV, thinking he might like to watch So You Think You Can Dance with me, but he was seemingly as horrified by Mia Michaels critiques as his mama. I turned off the television - thinking it too distracting - and rocked him. When I went to nurse him for the FLOPPITY-JILLIONITH time, he clamped down on my left nipple so hard I groaned from the searing pain.

It was a groan born of frustration and hurt and exasperation. It was louder than I anticipated.

And my baby pulled away from me, pouted his lower lip, and began to sob.

When J arrived home, he wordlessly took a dozing H from my arms and commenced rocking him.

"Go," he whispered. "I've got him."

I brushed my teeth. It was 9:15, and I had not done that yet all day.

I showered, and when J came into the bathroom a few moments later - babe tucked peacefully in his bassinet - I cried.

"I scared our baby! I've traumatized him for sure."

And J told me that of course I had not traumatized him. I dried my tears and we went downstairs like a real-live married couple and I poured myself a VAT of wine. And we had an actual conversation - about my old job, about my career prospects, about Master's degrees - and suddenly I started to feel better. I admitted to J that I might be a little depressed. Not clinically depressed... just sad. I've been in a relationship with my company for over 6 years; severing ties will take some getting used to, as any break-up would.

HomeValley circa 2000 could handle a break-up. There were the requisite tears; the long, self-indulgent diatribes to good girlfriends; the pensive walks - discman and Britney Spears "Stronger" in hand - around Manhattan. The new haircut, the more svelte physique, the 4.0 GPA. A break-up is a wonderful excuse to be self-indulgent; to recommit to myself, to reinvent myself, to learn from past mistakes and resolve to be better.

And so that's my mission. I choose to accept it.

A very wise woman once said:

"The hardest part of moving forward... is never looking back."
- Sally from Felicity

I'm ten years older, ten years wiser; but some things never change.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Developments

I had a dream the other night that I met that loud Italian dude from TLC's Cake Boss (I've only ever seen promos for the show), and I couldn't wait to update my Facebook status. In my dream.

When I woke, I promptly decided to abandon social networking.

Because: come ON.

I'm steering clear of Facebook and Twitter for at least seven full days. Facebook and I will likely work it out. Twitter and I are quite possibly breaking up for good. Twitter assaults my senses. It may give me a stroke if I don't learn how to use it properly.

Today is Day 3, and I feel better. Clearer. This morning I baked muffins, for JC's sake.

Plus, I've got a lot to mull over this week.

I was laid off last week. That is, my position was eliminated.

As a family, we're grappling with a lot right now. But in lieu of focusing on the negatives (LACK OF INCOME HOLY SHIT), I am looking forward.

I'm an accidental stay-at-home mom.

And right at this moment, I'm looking at my sleeping boy in my arms, and I'm thinking: this happened for a reason.

Perhaps he needs me more.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

BAB Project Week 5: Mmm. Cake.

Imma - seriously, I don't think there is currently any non-phrase/word I hate more than "Imma." - but for emphasis, Imma switch up the BAB Project postings from here on out.

Starting weight: 158.2

Current Weight: 154.2

Total L-Bs lost: Four, chickens! I'll still take it.

And that's yer update, folks. Fitness-wise, I've been doing okay. I've been running a bit since my back finally healed; I've been going for long, sweaty walks with H in the morn. Nutrition-wise, I seriously almost had a nervous breakdown at my grandfather's on Sunday because I promised J we would leave at 4:30, and by 5 we still hadn't eaten the ice cream cake. I nearly killed a few family members to get to those sweet, sweet crunchies.

But the scale is still moving in the right direction. I am going to pull out my old copy of Spent this week in an effort to will myself out of my sugar addiction. This might also be the week I break out the ole P90X again. Might.

Annnddd.. the little lord is screaming his face off. Night, y'all.

Hap-hap-happiest Baby Since Bing Crosby Tapdanced With Danny Effing Kaye.

Am parenting GENIUS.

H is a fabulous night-time sleeper - I am talking AMAZING here, folks - and so, I shall never, EVER complain.

However, he doesn't typically nap during the day... AT ALL. Now remember me, all not complaining? Totally not complaining, but his 15-minute cat-naps make it very difficult to accomplish much during the day. Like showering. And I think we can all agree, personal hygiene is important. (Man, I remember the days when I really couldn't muster the energy to shower. Now a shower on J's baby-watch is an effing Caribbean vacation.)

Last night, Hendrik didn't sleep as well as normal (he did a six-hour stint and then a three-hour; are you playing your tiny violin for me?)... And I could tell the Snooze was a wee-bit sleepy this afternoon. I hadn't showered since Sunday, which is harmful to innocent bystanders. Baby would fall asleep easily enough in my arms, but when I placed him gingerly in his crib - twice - disaster. The second time, I was actually lathering up when I heard him scream. I dashed into the nursery sopping wet, and picked up my cranky baby.

I reasoned with him: "Mama needs to shower, Hendrik. Please, let Mama shower, baby."

When that didn't work, I put him in his vibrating chair, which only momentarily distracting him, before he wailed again.

And then: a brainstorm!

I ran into the bedroom and grabbed my hair dryer. I plugged it in close to H, put it on cool blast, and he was immediately silent. He loved the loud whooshing sound, and within minutes, he drifted off into a deep sleep. (We're working on 40 minutes here. I'm wearing deodorant! Win!).

Alas, I can't take credit for these tricks. New parents, do yourself a favor: buy this book. Dr. Karp isn't saying anything you haven't heard, but he's reinforcing those tactics you learned about in your birthing class but promptly discarded - as we did. Today, we live and die by the swaddle, the shushing, and the white noise. I can't recommend this book enough; it's now our go-to gift for new parents. (J also ran into a dad at work who randomly recommended the book a few days after I picked it up, wondering why I was sucking at keeping my child calm.) It's the ultimate newborn guide, and an immediate confidence-booster.

Godspeed, mamas.

Monday, July 19, 2010

An Old Friend Returns...

Get a life lift? Don't mind if I do!

I've just subscribed to O Magazine again after a long absence. Welcome home, old friend. How I've missed your sage advice!

Do y'all read O? You'd be wise to pick up a copy. It's therapy in crisp, colorful pages; at 4.50 an issue, it's a bargain. Plus, this month is the "deals" issue. Oprah be giving you Vizio TVs at 30% off; AND there are over $200,000 worth of prizes to win! Oh, O. Would that we could meet and be best friends, and would that I thought of this.

At the end of the magazine, Ms. Winfrey regales us with what she knows for sure.

Here's what Ms. HomeValley knows for sure, in no particular order.

  1. Our wedding reception playlist? Hands down the greatest wedding playlist you could ever conceive. It will blow your mind and knock your socks off and then slap you in the face. I will sell it to you at a discount rate. It only had one flaw, which we can remedy for you: we didn't end the evening with H to the Izzo, by Hova. I mean, that would have been RIDICULOUS.

  2. I am really overthinking Twitter. I have nightmares about hashtags, and no, I still don't really understand what the fuck that means, damnit. I am at the crossroads of information overload; and I need to decide if I will stay or if I will go. (Unfollowing Roger Ebert helped. Lord, that man tweeted about every three seconds. No lie.)

  3. My son is an absolute joy. How did we get along without him for so long? Brother sleeps nearly nine consecutive hours in the night, and then takes a three-hour morning nap. His mama is very, very blessed.

  4. All women should have ONE YEAR at home with their babies, PERIOD. Six weeks short-term disability, plus another six weeks of unpaidFMLA - if you qualify? Shame on you, United States government. Shame. On. You.

  5. I need to get my ass in gear and get moving. In career, fitness, and domestic life. Stay tuned...

Body After Baby Week 4: Panera Brownies = Weight Loss. Science, y'all.

Starting weight: 158.2

Current Weight: 154.4

Total L-Bs lost: 3.8! The scale is my bitch.

Number of gym visits this week: 2, plus one family exercise outing at Wissahickon Park. Didn't make the two-mile run this week, as my back is still smarting. I don't know what I did to it... Maybe it has something to do with my 11.5 pound meatloaf baby?

Other physical activity: Volleyball in Grandpop's pool wearing a maternity swimsuit. At least the bottoms were a bit loose.
Most triumphant moment this week: The scale finally budges! I think one pound a week is about all that can be expected during breastfeeding. I have no idea how long I'll breastfeed... I'd like to make it to one year, but for now I'll say: as long as the girls allow.
Most soul-crushing moment this week: My entire wardrobe is from Old Navy. I'm a 13 year-old girl.

What's motivating me this week: Strong, muscular legs that take me through my first half-marathon this November. Also, how about Courteney Cox? That woman looks damn good for 45.
Things that would make Jillian Michaels weep this week: Panera. Voted healthiest fast food, though.
This week's mini-goal: Same as last week: 3 gym visits, another two-mile run, two days of strength training.

This week's reward: Mani/pedi. I live for you, Cinderella Nails.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Drik's a Rock Star. Respect.

Happier times.

The l'il man was proclaimed "perfect" today at his two-month check-up. I've been saying it for weeks, but we finally have validation from an MD!

He weighs 11 pounds, 4.6 ounces. He's also 1 foot, 11.25 inches, which is just a hilarious way to put it. He's 1'11". Mah boy is tall and lean and thriving. I don't want to admit this for fear that my milk will spontaneously dry up, but I'm proud that he's exclusively breastfed. I don't know if I ever believed I had it in me, but somehow the girls are able to sustain life. It's a pretty powerful thing, and it makes me give thanks for my new body, pencil skirts be damned.

Of course, the two-month visit meant SHOTS, holy fuck. I felt so duplicitous, trying to distract him with a pacifier, looking into his serene baby blues, and then BAM! The needle is thrust into his tiny thigh... He was momentarily stunned, and then his face turned deep crimson and he screamed in silence. Lord, that silent cry shatters my soul.
Mama's sorry, baby. But this way, you won't get pertussis. Someday, you'll thank me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Jacob 4 Eva

Two Fridays ago was my first bonafide night out, sans baby and husband. Liberation!

Of course, I went to see Eclipse. And I got all dolled up for the occasion, and didn't even bother to wear my new Daisy Fuentes "slimming panel" tank. It sent a very clear message: this mushy pooch is your future, tweens.

But I actually felt fantastic. I met the ladies at the theater, ordered up my small popcorn with butta, and mah Sweettarts, and it was ON.

Oh, Bella.

So here are a few observations about the film:

  1. I AM TEAM JACOB. I hate proclaiming a "team," but come ON, girls. The abs. Can I get a witness? But really, Ed just doesn't do it for me. Maybe it's all the "protection" bullshit. Maybe it's the fact that he's completely humorless. Maybe it's the overall codependent relationship between the two star-crossed lovers. Either way, I will take the warm-blooded Native American any day. His only flaw? His incredulous infatuation with -

  2. BELLA. Lord, Bella. First, you assault my eyes with that ATROCIOUS wig. Then, you crush my feminist soul with your complete lack of ambition, save to have sex with your boyfriend and be with him for all eternity. Did you seriously just offer to go to college ALL SO HE WOULD hit that? Sister, wise up.

  3. I really dig Anna Kendrick.

  4. The man seated behind me gave a running commentary throughout the entire movie. "God, that's cheesy!" He'd proclaim to his lady friend about every three minutes. "Ugh, so cheesy." We get it, dude. Your girlfriend dragged you to the show. You're not a homosexual. It's not Citizen Kane. Now please shut your big yapper. Damn.

Who saw it? What say you, friends?