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?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Week 4: Can I Lose the Weight Whilst Eating Sweettarts, Please?

Starting weight: 158.2

Current Weight: 157

Total L-Bs lost: A whooping 1.2, But I'll take what I can get, y'all.

Number of gym visits this week: 3, plus one track visit. Didn't make the two-mile run this week, as my back has been aching.

Other physical activity: A walk with H to calm him down. My man loves to be in motion, which is a good way to amp up my activity level.

Most triumphant moment this week: The dirty Grey Goose martini at Buddakan. J and I went out on Saturday night for an anniversary celebration, and that ice cold drink was so good I nearly wept with joy. The martini has nothing to do with weight loss, I know; but sitting in a trendy Philadelphia restaurant with my husband, sans baby, talking about things other than my nipples and breast milk? Heavenly.

Most soul-crushing moment this week: I'm breaking out. So that extra 20 lbs, no make-up, no shower, no wardrobe, PLUS pimples? You've got yourself a recipe for a very teary lady. The chocolate bento box at Buddakan totally helped though.

What's motivating me this week: A world without cellulite.

Things that would make Jillian Michaels weep this week: The Mcdonald's I picked up in desperation, dealing with a very fussy little man.

This week's mini-goal: 3 gym visits, another two-mile run, two days of strength training.

This week's reward: Pride.

Year Two in Review

It's been quite a year.

Happy Anniversary, Kins. We love you.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Week Three - The Good, The Bad, and The BBQs.

Eh, Week Two. Until Friday, I ate pretty impeccably. I also got some good workouts in, and accomplished my goal of running two miles. I didn't get to the gym 4 times, but I got to the gym once, and the track three times, so I guess that counts?

Either way, there were BBQs. And cupcakes. And brownies. And banana-chocolate-strawberry shortcakes, for the love of PETE.

This week, we start anew.

Starting weight: 158.2

Current Weight: 158.4 (I was 156.2 at my doc appointment this week though! Efffff.)

Total L-Bs lost: Go to hell.

Number of gym visits this week: 1, plus 3 trips to the track.

Other physical activity: Again, 3 walks with Hendrik in the heat.

Most triumphant moment this week: Two-mile run! I'm back, baby.

Most soul-crushing moment this week: Gaining .2 pounds. And not having the will power to avoid ANY of the sweet treats.

What's motivating me this week: Jennifer Aniston. Her body is slammin'.

Things that would make Jillian Michaels weep this week: Oh Em Gee, Jillian's head would explode if she witnessed what I ate at Grandpop's picnic yesterday.

This week's mini-goal: 3 gym visits, and another two-mile run.

This week's reward: Will finally put that Sephora gift card to good use, because I don't feel that deserving after this weekend's antics.

Slow and steady, y'all.

For the Love of Cloth

Last night as we hauled Snoozer home from another fun-filled family BBQ, I asked J if he wouldn't mind giving me a few solid hours in my office today, to write and organize and budget. J loves budgeting so much that he's offered me FIVE child-free hours, and here I am, plunked in front of the comp...

I think I'd rather be napping.

Which is disconcerting, to a lady who claims to want to be a writer. But we shall power through - albeit sleepily - to discuss: CLOTH DIAPERS.

More specifically, my love for cloth diapers. Yes, friends (and naysayers), cloth is a beautiful thing.

To be sure, there is poop. Then there is more poop. And sometimes, some serious POOP. But since Snooze is exclusively breast-fed, the poo is always the same consistency. So at least we know what to expect.

Right now, we've got 16 diaps: some FuzziBunz, some bumGenius. I can't say I have a preference at this point, though I am going to order four more diapers this week (likely two of each) to lengthen the amount of time between washings.

So here's how it all goes down:

  1. Diaper babe.

  2. Babe pees and poos.

  3. Change babe as you would a disposable wearin' kid. We store our diapers in the bottom drawer of his dresser for easy access during changings.

  4. We haven't graduated to cloth wipes yet, so we toss used wipes in a trash can placed next to the changing table/bureau.

  5. I toss the dirty diaper aside. Sometimes for longer than my husband would prefer. (Just the charm of me!)

  6. Once I do get around to rinsing the soiled adorableness, I do so in the sink in our laundry room, which is conveniently located on our second floor, next to Hendrik's nursery. I separate the outer diapers from the inserts, then rinse and wring out; finally, I toss them into a dry pail next to the washer. And done! Nothin' to it, I tell yous.

  7. When it comes time to wash the diaps (usually when H is down to two), I simply toss the contents of the dry pail in the washer, along with the machine-washable bag.

  8. Cold soak and a hot rinse, then low heat in the dryer.

  9. Once dry, I stuff the inserts back into the outer pants, and restock the diaper drawer. Fin.

We even travel with cloth! We spent all weekend on the go, and when we're out on the town I store the dirty diapers in a FuzziBunz tote specifically designed for this purpose.

We've done the math, too, and we figured your average diaper costs about 29 cents. (Huggies and Seventh Generation seem to be right here.) We probably go through 10 diapers a day, but we said for the sake of argument that we'd average 8 per day each year. That equates to 847 bucks annually. If we assume we'll be diapering for three full years, the investment is roughly $2500 per baby.

Our investment? About 400 dollars at his point. There may be a minimal bump in water usage, but you can't really deny the cost savings, in addition to the environmental impact (that's nearly 9000 diapers per child not ending up in a landfill).

Sure, there are a few extra steps, but admittedly... I think cloth is fun. Not because I particularly like being wrist-deep in my precious's poop, but because cloth diapering feels decidedly old-school and... purposeful. I quite enjoy the process, which makes me unspeakably weird. And I'm okay with that.

Oh! And! Cloth diapering means little-to-no diaper rash, and early potty-training! I mean: WIN.

And there you have it friends: a cloth diaperin' diatribe, brought to you by your best good friend HomeValley, who used to talk about drunken nights spent in VIP rooms in Atlantic City and Manhattan and trips to South America. This is not lost on me either. Until tomorrow!