About Valerie

I love Richmond. I was born here. I live here. I will die here.

Things I’m loving these days

[Here's where I'm supposed to apologize for not posting for almost three damn weeks, but sorry-not-sorry. I've been busy working and parenting and watching lots of television and napping. While I've missed you all, these things are also very important.]

1. Doc Martin. Yes it’s a random British comedy that was recommended to me by my mother-in-law who heard about it from her 80-year-old neighbor, but I love it and I won’t apologize.

2. Suri’ Burn Book. Things like this remind me that the Internet can be a wonderful, wonderful place.

3. Iced coffee. I’ve got two huge jars of the concentrate in my fridge right now and I’m consuming so much of the stuff that I’m usually levitating come 11am. But when done up right it tastes like chocolate ice cream SO WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?

4. Our new car. I feel like a jackass for putting this on here, but after nature tried to destroy my life, I feel like I’m allowed a little excitement. Ours is gray (“graphite”, actually) and looks much like the Batmobile.

5. This song. All members of the Catrow Family sing their hearts out at the chorus.

6. How JR calls pistachios “mustachios.”

7. He also calls movie theaters “movie laters.” I can’t bring myself to correct him.

I hate nature

So this happened:

We had a crazy storm on Monday and our part of town basically took a direct hit. Branches were down everywhere–including into the windshield of our car, as you can see from the photo above. The best part is, we were the only car on our street *not* parked under a tree.

It’s about as awesome as you can imagine, but it could be worse. We weren’t *in* the car when it happened, and our house was spared any damage. Another insane storm blew through last night and we only had a few sticks in our yard for that go-around.

The insurance adjuster came out on Tuesday. He was very nice and seemed to genuinely feel horrible about having to tell me that the car was totaled. I wasn’t exactly surprised–the car was nine years old and subsequently worth less than what it would’ve cost to fix damage to the roof and frame. But it was also wonderfully, gloriously paid off, so we’re looking at having to take on a car payment for the first time in six years. I would be lying if I said that thought didn’t make me want to throw up.

The whole process has sucked a lot–I think mostly because it was such a random event and there’s no one to blame for it. Money is going to be tight while we work to replenish our savings, but I realize we’re lucky to *have* savings to begin with. While this situation is unfortunate for us, it could be potentially devastating for someone else.

Still. It was sad to see the old girl go. She was very good to us for a long time.

It doesn’t matter where you come from…it matters where you go

My friend Deanna is a teacher at The Academy at Virginia Randolph, an alternative high school in the Richmond area.

As you can imagine, most of these kids have had (or are currently having) a tough go of it. As you can also imagine, it takes a pretty fantastic person to devote her career to teaching and caring for a group of kids that most people have given up on. But it’s just what Deanna does. She loves those kids and thinks they are amazing.

To help them think that about themselves, Deanna is working hard to bring Academy Challenge Day to her school. The idea behind it, according to her fundraising website, is to “provide youth and their communities with experiential programs that demonstrate the possibility of love and connection through the celebration of truth, diversity, and full expression.”

The goal is to raise enough money for 300 kids to participate. $50 will sponsor one kid’s full participation, but any amount you can donate is so appreciated.

To learn more about what Deanna’s up to, check out go here and here. And watch the video below because…wow.

Mini me, you complete me…

I’ve always known that JR favors my side of the family more than Ross’s (at least on particularly noticeable feature like skin tone and hair color), but I still have those moments where I look at him and think, “Whoa. You clearly came from me.”

It’s pretty weird/really awesome.

(One housekeeping note: WordPress is being a jerkface re: comments. Instead of putting spam comments right in the spam section where they belong, they’re all going into moderation. This means I need to sort through all the jibber jabber to find and moderate legit comments from you fine people. Thanks for your patience!)

“Shut UP, Dawson.”

I have a nice little routine for when I need to work on my parenting column for RVANews.

Each Sunday evening, I go down to the basement (or “retreat to my lair”, as we sometimes call it) and settle in to the couch for an evening of writing…and watching eleventy million episodes of Dawson’s Creek.

Usually it takes me three or four hours to crank out words that aren’t horrible, so I’m witness to perhaps an unhealthy dose of Capeside drama each and every week. And it’s made me realize something.

Dawson. You suck.

I mean, I knew this to a certain degree when I watched the show off and on during it’s original run–especially when you compared him to the force that is/was/will always be Pacey Whitter. But watching the show now, with more mature and experienced eyes, I now understand that Dawson’s not just a angsty teen. He’s also just a jerk.

A big, giant, cry baby jerk:

I really don’t have anything else to say about this, other than “PACEY RULES, DAWSON RULES.”

(This post was brought to you buy the year 1998 and an extreme lack of sleep.)

Being honest with myself

I mentioned back in March that I planned to talk to my doctor about phasing out Zoloft at my upcoming physical.

When I brought it up, he was supportive…but hesitant. He acknowledged that staying on or going off this type of medication (at least in my particular situation) was/is my call, but he wanted to make sure I was contemplating the cut off for the right reasons.

“Why do you want to go off of it?”

“Because I don’t want to be on medication forever?”

“Why not? What if you need it?”

“I don’t *want* to need it.”

“But what if you do?”

“Well, I’d like to see if I do.”

He nodded, and we outlined a very conservative plan for gradually reducing my dosage–25 milligrams at a time, taking a full month to see if each reduction was successful. I walked out feeling pretty good about things.

And then I reduced my dosage and it all went to shit.

I lasted about three days before I slipped into almost a week-long period taken over by that feeling of heaviness. For me, two of the most frustrating things about depression are 1) sometimes it takes me a couple of days to realize *that’s* what’s making me want to punch everyone in the face and 2) sometimes it’s hard to tell if I’m feeling awful because of the depression or because maybe life is just being a big pain in the ass at that moment. But once I figured out what was going on, I had to acknowledge something that my doctor said to me during our appointment.

“You can’t let pride dictate this. Please be honest with yourself about whether you need this medication or not.”

So I was. That day I went back to my regular, higher dosage. And I cried a lot because I *am* prideful and I *don’t* want to need this medication. But I do–at least right now. I need to be ok with that. I’m not quite there yet, but I will be.

(For those of you facing a similar situation, I was recently sent links to this and this. Both of them left me crying and nodding and just feeling very grateful that we live in a time where depression isn’t such a hush-hush thing. People who have it can also be incredibly awesome–and the fact that they’re talking about it openly and honestly makes them even MORE awesome.)

Chicken soup with rice

JR and I picked up a copy of Maurice Sendak’s Chicken Soup With Rice during our weekly stop by the library. He liked it so much that we read it three or four times before he went down for his nap. As I shut JR’s door and headed downstairs, I was hit by how sad it is that the world will never get anything new from Mr. Sendak.

Then I cried a bit.

My alibi

(I know! Two posts in two days! What is this MADNESS?!)

The parenting column that I write for RVANews now runs every Tuesday (as opposed to every OTHER Tuesday, as it once was…in the good ol’ days…and the poorer days CHA CHING!). Consequently, the majority of my creative juices have been…flowing? I guess? towards that. Hence the crickets happening over here. So as a way to justify my recent 5-week absence (because I’m SURE everyone was DYING), I thought I’d share a link or two or a million. 1) Because I want you to know that I haven’t been spending all of my time watching Giuliana & Bill (just some of my time) and 2) I think you might like some of these.

So here you go:

Being a good mom friend

He won’t stop touching me

“WHAT DID YOU SAY?”

50 things to teach my son before he goes

My 6 preschooler road trips must-haves

Take back the nap

Me according to him

Hope you like ‘em!

The beach was swell (and re-entry is the pits)

Before I begin, I’d like us to take a moment of silence to officially mourn the end of our vacation in Hilton Head–a week of sun, naps, and (that most wonderful of wonders) grandparents who are willing to take the morning shift for six days straight.

Thank you.

***

Anyway, hey! It’s been a while. I bet you didn’t even know we WENT on vacation. Well we did. And it was awesome. I’m thoroughly exhausted, freckled, and hating the fact that we’re home. But I will say that I’m much more willing to return to life as it is now than what it looked like when I was working full-time. If that were still the case I probably would’ve spent yesterday’s eight(ish) ride back up to Richmond weeping and curled up in a ball on the floor of the car. Instead I just pouted a bit and clung desperately to the fact that at least the dogs are being boarded until Monday. Once I pick those (adorable!) jokers up, it’s all over.

Until then, I will stare at these pictures over and over. You should too.

He pretended to sleep for the first 15 minutes of the drive. Then he spent the rest of the time kicking the back of the driver’s seat.

Photo by his Mamaw. I was very much asleep when this was taken.

Swimming was his favorite. He’s still pretty nervous in the water, but I think we’ll have a little fishy by the end of the summer.

Freckles. All I get are freckles.

Mini golf was totally my favorite part of the trip. The kid had The Adorable turned up to 11.

First real ice cream on our last night in town.

***

Things look to be calming down a tiny bit for the summer, so I’m hoping to spend more time over here. I’ve missed you guys. What have you been up to?