Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Because It's Wednesday...

And I am on hold with United Health Care, talking deductibles and labs and well-visits and, most specifically, why was this applied to the deductible, when clearly this is a routine lab part of a well-visit?

Some time later...

Well, if I worked for a major medical insurance company, and I had to tell my customer something they didn't want to hear, I too would blame "the universal health care reform". Well played, Mae. Well played.

Snippet time!

  • I love autocorrect. Seriously want to marry it. Today I got a text message from J as H and I were on our way to meet him at My Gym for some free play time. "On my way. Had to take a deep tour." Dirty!

  • Lo and behold, J's detour was to DFW airport - Granddad just happened to be bunking in Dallas for the night. Win for the whole fam! I also love random grandparent drop-ins. Hendrik was very excited as well.

  • The only time our kid will nap for two hours is when we actively need him to be awake because we are really, really famished on a Saturday afternoon and would like to be at the sushi restaurant immediately. On those days, Hank is Rumpelstiltskin. But when Mommy just wants to sit down and watch DVRed episodes of So You Think You Can Dance, you can be sure he pooped and needs to be changed post-haste and would also like to run around his bedroom and throw books at my head.

  • Finally, J is hiring peeps. A recruiter passed on a resume he thought J might like after he performed an initial candidate screen. J passed. The recruiter contacted the candidate to tell him J passed. His response? Ready?

(Are you sure you are really ready? It's good.)

"they why did you call me and email me in the first place. get your shit together."

Somebody hire this pragmatist ASAP.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Little Boy.

Some more shots from our Colorado trip...

Who is this little boy? What has he done with my baby? And why is he giving me the stink-eye?

Just two dudes, being adorable. Born a mere 80 years apart.

His pensive mountain look.

Playground on Cheyenne Mountain. Shots taken before a very spirited two-year old knocked him in the head with a bucket. Boy's mama proceeded to put the bucket in time-out. Because it totally was the inanimate object's fault.

Now, let's smile for the camera, Hank:

Fourteen month-old boys are truly the bee's knees.

I'm Your Candy Girl

I think we can all agree that the days of "relaxing" on a vacation are kaput once the babies arrive. The only breaks I had in Colorado were when little man was napping or asleep for the night. (Since J was not with us - he was at a conference in Seattle - I read. Oh, and it was glorious.)

But if I cannot relax on vacation as per usual, I can certainly reassess my life's goals, goddamnit. As with every sojourn away from home, I returned to Dallas with renewed purpose. This time, I decided to do something once and for all about my health.

Bob Greene (Oprah's "brother" and fitness guru) said earlier this year: "When you are motivated, you are out of excuses." Word, Bob. And when you have a young'un, you have a million excuses, not least of which is: I'm really fucking tired right now and I deserve this king-sized Snickers bar. Bitch.

I'm still about ten-ish pounds away from wedding weight, five pounds from pre-baby poundage. This is not the end of the world, and I feel pretty good. Unfortunately, my clothes are just ever-so-slightly too snug. You know the feeling? Oh for sure, I can button those jeans, but beware the muffin top. And I can squeeze into this sleeveless shirt from 09, but it is really pinching my wobbly arm bits.

We're a one-income family now, with a large mortgage and graduate school and an electricity bill that I opened a few days ago and said: "Wait. This must be two months of energy, right?" New clothes are just not an option right now, save the occasional top I buy at Target that falls apart after three washings.

So my mission: she is clear.

I have to get back to my fighting weight.

If there is one thing I love in this life, it is vodka JJ Abrams Coach Oprah Snickers sugar. And so I first decided to assess this addiction. I eat sweets constantly, particularly if I am feeling blue or bored or it's a day of the week. Recently, Hendrik and I ran out to Target and I returned home with a Snickers bar AND a Toblerone. I gobbled up the candy in 3 minutes flat. I did not feel good afterwards.

Lately, it's been ice cream and chocolate and caramel corn and chocolate and Heath bar on my Tasti D-Lite and chocolate. I have several frequent buyer cards stamped at the Marble Stone Creamery, and my mom left behind a wake of Twizzlers and M&Ms. In Colorado, my Far-Mor put sugar on fruit and fed me incredible pound cake and homemade whipped cream, as well as a steady supply of Dove chocolates.

Yet the scale hasn't budged. Imagine!

Aside from the L-Bs, I believe sugar may be a carcinogen. For sure, it causes a plethora of health issues (hello, diabetes). There is no nutritional value, only potential detriment. To this end, when someone tries to give it to Hank, I tend to react like they have offered him arsenic.

No, I am not cutting out all sugar (it's virtually impossible and I still want to have some fun), but I am looking very closely at my intake. I remembered hearing on one of those PBS infomercials that you should max out at 16g of sugar daily. To put this into perspective, my hazelnut coffee creamer has 9g in 2 tablespoons. One teaspoon of sugar = 4 grams.

I relaxed my standards a bit when I read that most docs recommend you do not exceed 32g daily, or 8 teaspoons.

Oh! And I rejoiced when I learned that most red wine has about .96g per 5 ounces. BOO YEAH.

It's been going well. I've been tracking my intake for a week now, and the highest I've gone is 34 grams. Most days I average 24. I dare you to start tracking your own intake. One tiny Nature's Path granola bar has 15 grams of sugar. This new focus is rocking my world.

My other health/fitness resolutions?

  1. Get thee to the gym, at least 3 times per week. This is based on monetary concerns, because cash rules everything around me, y'all. I can't justify a $50 monthly expense unless I get my ass there. The fitness? Just a bonus. I've been taking Hendrik to the Kid's Club, which is wonderful for him. It gives him some independent time with other kids - and other adults - and he seems to really enjoy it. I've also been to several Sunday morning yoga classes, and I'm actually thrilled with the caliber of the practice there. I can't afford a studio right now, but I am very pleased with the instructors at LA Fitness. We've also been walking outside before 10 AM, at which time all Texans must be inside, lest your face melt off in the 120 degree temps. (Another post, my pets.)

  2. Drink 64 ounces of water daily. I suck at this. But I am trying.

  3. Cut out the booze. Did I tell you J got me a wine fridge? Slid it right into the kitchen where the trash compactor used to be. It is unspeakably awesome, yet lends itself to one to two glasses of pinot noir daily. For now, I'm saving vino for the weekends. So far, so good.

  4. Take vitamins. Multi, calcium, D - what up??

  5. Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. You know when you really want a starchy carb or a pint of Ben and Jerry's? I have been reaching for cucumbers and celery with hummus instead. It sucks, and it makes me very cranky at first; but then I realize I am doing something good for my body, my health, and my son. And then it makes me only slightly less stabby.

Jada Pinkett Smith said in this month's Redbook (BTW, I don't remember subscribing to Redbook. It justs keeps coming every month and I keep reading. I think they just know I am over 30 and married with children and thus subscription is mandatory.) that for her, "food is fuel." I really like that. It forces me to ask myself what will nourish my body and make it work better? when all I long to do is curl up with a jar of Nutella and a spoon.

What about you all? Do you monitor your sugar intake? Any fitness resolutions this summer? And do you read and/or like Redbook? Do tell.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Blogger Woe - Need Guidance.

Okay, friends: who among you is using Blogger? And does everyone have as much trouble as I do inserting photos? Each time I do, I spend 10 hours trying to reassemble my text into something coherent, and it rarely works (as evidenced below). HALP.

What am I doing wrong? What can I do to save time when posting pics? Any advice would be most appreciated. I have been blogging for FIVE years and I gots no clue.

Thanks, loves. Happy weekend.

Rocky Mountain Hiney

First rides!

First solo ride. Look alive, Sadie!

Quality time with Far-Far.

Keeping it classy with mismatched socks at DIA.


Oh, dudes: the pure joy of traveling the friendly skies with a 14-month old! The thrills! The chills! The yogurt puffs!

Last night, when we finally arrived home at 10:30, I told J that when we have another child? I am just never going anywhere again. Ever. Mkay?

Overall, our trip to Colorado was fantastic. Our 1.5 hour flight on Saturday went very well. We had skipped his morning nap so by the time we taxied down the runway for takeoff at 11:30 AM, I was able to rock baby boy to sleep on my lap. He looked so sweetly serene snoozing there on my chest. I have also never been quite so grateful to read the completely inane People magazine. Score one for Mama Dukes.

Of course, he woke up after about 35 minutes, at which time I entertained him and other passengers with dramatic readings of I Love You All The Time and impassioned renditions of Itsy Bitsy Spider. Best mom ever.

The highlights?

  • The flesh-eating bacteria that threatened Hank's delicate booty. I finally had to admit to myself that all-natural Burt's Bees butt cream is totally ineffective. My boy needs maximum strength Desitin on his bits. Poor man finally started to heal as we headed home.

  • I bet none of you chickens realized that Santa actually lives in the foothills of Pike's Peak Suckers. Hendrik totally visited the North Pole, Santa's actual workshop tucked away in the mountains. We rode rides! And I even let Hendrik go on the boats by himself, entrusting a very questionable-looking 4 year-old to protect him from jumping ship.

  • My Far-Mor (that's Swedish for grandmother) getting a positive PET scan reading: no more cancer. We celebrated at the Old Country Buffet. (No, really.)

  • Hank spending quality time with his great-grandparents. He's got three of them! Lucky dude.

  • Watching The Bachelorette with my grandmother. We both agree Ben is super-sexy; and Ames really needed to go.

  • Have you guys seen Despicable Me? Tangled? Go forth and Netflix. Solid, solid films. I think I might only watch Pixar and Disney movies from here on out.

  • The flight home, on which one of us refused to sleep, though it was hours past bedtime. To fuck with me, he passed out as we the plane touched down. Waiting for our stroller on the jetway, every single person who passed exclaimed, "Finally asleep, huh?" One guy told me he was on the flight to Denver with us. "Man, he is hilarious! Nice set of lungs on him!" Indeed. And sorry, fellow passengers.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Headed West.

Last night's orientation went well, especially when the instructor told us to please eat the refreshments located at the front of the lecture hall, and I dropped a slippery two-liter bottle of soda on the floor. Luckily, the bottle was closed, so I merely laughed and said sheepishly, "Nobody open that."


Today I am busy packing for our jaunt to Colorado tomorrow. Hank and I are off on another adventure together, and though I am dreading the flight (he's lap-riding, and he's very squirmy), I am packing 783 books, DVDs, and one new toy to keep him occupied for the two-hour duration. I'm hoping he sleeps (trying to delay his morning nap for the ride); but whatever happens, rest assured: I'll be drinking. Bring on the Bloody Marys, Flight Attendant.

I'm thrilled to be taking Hendrik to Colorado to visit his great-grandparents, who moved to the Mountain State 21 years ago. Twenty years ago, in the summer of 1991, my brother Mike and I journeyed there alone for our inaugural visit. How fast those last TWO decades flew! I've been lucky enough to travel to Colorado Springs about ten or so times over that long period. I've been to the summit of Pike's Peak many, many times.

I can't wait to take Snooze there. I can't wait to make another beautiful memory together.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

We Ain't in Undergrad Anymore, Baby.

Amidst a very hectic summer schedule of houseguests; travel (flying to Colorado on Saturday); playdates; a renewed gym membership; and furiously texting my sister Cat re: our slightly unhealthy So You Think You Can Dance obsession, I've got grad school orientation tonight, y'all!

I have been enthusiastically looking forward to this moment for months, ever since I learned I was accepted to business school. I am thrilled to be pursuing a graduate degree. I am overjoyed to have a serious adult outlet. I am approaching schooling as a new business venture. I've been waking at 5:30 AM to enjoy the peace of the morning and to indoctrinate myself into the ways of rousing early to complete coursework. (Squee! Coursework!) I feel invigorated that though there is a cost at present, I will eventually be contributing monetarily to our family again.

Most of all?

I am excited about the shoes.

Mah shoes, guys.

I have no cause to wear four-inch heels around the house, whilst I am chasing a rambunctious nearly-14 month-old babe. On weekends, it's about 567 degrees here, so even if J and I do score a night out sans babe, you will catch me in straight flats (oh, I will also rock the flops, but I try not to make a habit of that in the evenings. I am unspeakably fancy.)

I showered and blew dry my hair this morning. and then threw on a pair of ripped jeans and a black tank. I briefly wondered if these jeans would be appropriate for tonight's event. (This happens when it has been eons since you attended an event labeled "business casual".) And then: an epiphany!

My business clothes!

I am in business school. I am an adult. (I am 29, after all.) I own a home in a respectable suburb. Today I decided I would attempt to get involved in a community board, for fuck's sake.

I can wear my beautiful business clothes to business school. I can make like the other part-timers who are rushing to class from uber-demanding day jobs. No one has to know that my current occupation involves poop and My Gym and Mom's League.

Ladies and gents: HomeValley's back, and she's better than evah.

Now, where did I put my Spanx?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Trois Ans

Three years ago today, we stood on a gorgeous, sweltering beach in Punta Cana, and promised to "Give it to each other every day." (We realized later that Maria, our translator, had said "Giveth." But either works, right?)

We danced wildly all night long. Everyone was soaked with sweat. It was an excellent party. (And I damn good playlist!)

We ordered pizza at 2 AM, and chatted drunkenly in our honeymoon suite. We had done it! Married at last! We were finally able to relax and enjoy a few more days of vacation with great friends and family.

When we decided to partner up, we agreed to never become complacent. To strive. To encourage. To keep reaching, bettering, becoming.

We saw the pyramids at Giza; the hidden city at Petra. We visited the final resting place of Eva Peron in Buenos Aires. We conquered the suspect "Barbeque for 2" at a Montevideo parilla. We lounged on the white sand beaches of Turks and Caicos.

On top of the (ancient) world.

You earned a Master's degree!

We conceived and birthed a babe, who has morphed into an energetic, constantly-dancing, book-lovin', curly mullet-headed little boy.

We made him! Well done!

Oh, and then there was that 1500-mile move to Texas! And living apart, and selling our home, and flying to and fro with a 9 month-old. And buying our first home together; and attempting to refurbish and furnish it, and create a whole new social network in the Southwest, whilst keeping in close touch with those we already know and love.

One job gained, one job lost. One Master's degree attained, one (possibly two) just getting under way. One child birthed. One house bought, one house sold. One huge move.

Do we know how to keep is fresh or what?

And here we are, and here we'll stay, cultivating happiness.

I love you, Kins.

(And since there is no video montage this year - because I just did one for Hank's birthday, and there are approximately two photographs of the two of us together this year, and I am chubby in both - here is a little look back, at thinner times.)

Year 1:

Create your own video slideshow at

Year 2:

Create your own video slideshow at

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Pay It Forward.

Hank and I took my mom to the airport. Her two-week stay ended today. Strange, but those two weeks went lightning-quick.

I get blue when our guests leave. The word blue is appropriate. I'm only the tiniest bit relieved that I no longer have to worry about feeding extended family. I am mostly sad that we live so far apart. That they get an intimate glimpse into our lives for so many days, and then that intimacy ends abruptly. I wonder how Hendrik feels. Is he bored to be alone with me again? Does he realize when they go away? I feel guilty that they will miss him. Even if he wasn't so goddamned charming: they will miss him, and his happy screaming, and his chubby little toes.

I decided to console myself with a cinnamon dolce latte at Starbucks, as you do. As I waited in the drive-thru line, I scanned my Facebook feed. There was only one thing everyone was talking about.

Casey Anthony. Not Guilty.

I hadn't closely followed the trial, but this verdict was unsurprising. No hard evidence. If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit, etc. I'm not happy about it; but then, I don't know if she did it. All the prosecution proved is that she's an asshole. We already knew that.

Still, how heart-breaking. No matter the verdict, nothing will bring back that gorgeous little girl and the full life she was denied.

Reading status updates, I felt plain melancholy. I pulled up to the window and hastily ordered a morning bun. Only a morning bun could make it right.

"OK," said the man in the Starbuck's cap. "The person in the car in front of you decided to pay it forward, so you just owe me for the morning bun."

"Pay it forward?" I asked incredulously.

"Yeah, sometimes that happens here."

"Just like that?" I smiled. (Texas, you really confound me sometimes with your equal number churches and strip joints; your guns and your "Obama is a Socialist!" billboards. Huh.)

"Just like that," the man replied.

"Well, what did that car behind me order?" I asked. "I guess I'll buy that."

"Great! I like to see how far it goes. Sometimes people just say, 'awesome, thanks,' and keep on driving."

I thought: I'd like to see how far it goes too.

As I drove home, I thought of Caylee Anthony. I thought of the fury of my Facebook friends. I thought of the cries of injustice; the loss of faith in our justice system; the idea that the jurors should hire bodyguards.

I thought: what if that woman or man in the car in front of me had also just heard the verdict? And what if he or she thought: I am going to do something nice for Caylee, anonymously. In Caylee's name. So that something good can come out of evil. So that we won't forget her, or her suffering.

I know it was just a latte, guys. But it made me feel... hopeful.

We arrived home and I hugged my baby tightly, thankful for all that I have, and resigned to pick up the tab for a stranger a little more often.