Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day to the best father, husband and friend I know.

You are hilarious.
You are handsome.
You are patient.
You are loving.
You are stubborn.
You are adorable.
You are playful.
You are hairy. ;)
You are strong.
You are smart.
You are tough.
You are helpful.
You are amazing.
You are dedicated.
You are FUN.
You are... the best father, husband and friend I know.

Happy Father's Day, Evan!!
Blissfully, ignorantly, pregnant...

Rebecca's birth


Lila's birth
Was a long process.

Friday, June 19, 2015

5QFriday with - my husband!! Happy almost Father's Day!

Today's guest for 5QFriday is my husband, Evan. He is an incredible person, and I wanted to interview him as we got close to Father's Day this weekend.

Another event we have this weekend is my annual Climb Out of the Darkness - a walk I do to benefit Postpartum Progress, an organization that means everything to me and helped me greatly during my recovery from a difficult bout with depression after Rebecca was born. I now sit on the Board as the PR Chair, and as such I have been involved on a national level this year as we prep for our global Climb events tomorrow. One task they gave me involved Evan, and having him write a sample fundraising letter from the husband's point of view.

This is something that I have always wondered about, but we never really discussed in detail. The impact that PPD has on family members is so profound - they are dealing with the fallout of our illness, and those suffering are at varying degrees of  involvement as they go through their journey. I could not imagine how hard that was for Evan, but since feelings are not a thing that Evan is big on chatting about in general, it just never happened until I asked him to complete this task.

Here is what he wrote:

All I remember feeling is frustration and helplessness (and good amount of anger that I probably didn't properly express).  

Frustration because none of this made sense to me.  That's our baby girl that needed a bottle, a diaper change or just to be held.  Why wouldn't you just hold her?  I was just so tired and could not understand why you were in bed crying and not helping me.  It's our baby.  Help me.

Helplessness because there was nothing I could do to fix it.  This is not the same person I knew a few days, weeks or months before Rebecca was born.  The only emotions I saw were sadness and apathy.  It was soul crushing to watch and there was nothing I could do to fix it.  There was nothing I could do to help her out of that dark place.

But that's not why people should donate to the Climb.  You should not donate because of what I went through.  The reality is that there is no way it could ever compare to what Lesley, and other mothers suffering from a form of postpartum depression, have gone through.  You donate because ever since Lesley found Postpartum Progress and started speaking up about postpartum depression, people from every corner of her life have been able to relate in one way or another. From people she has not seen in years to people whose children are now in their thirties and forties.  They say there was not a name for it back then, that they just suffered through it or never spoke up and how they wish they had.  Postpartum Progress gives these mothers a way to speak up and get the help they need (and the help their spouses and children desperately need them to get).

You donate because you can help the next new mom speak up.  You can help the next new mom get help.  You can help the next new mom find a way out of that dark place.
See? I told you he is incredible. If you are moved to donate, please visit

And now, here is his interview for 5QFriday.

1) What has been your favorite thing about becoming a father?

Realizing that I had an emotionally capacity beyond aggravation (it's a Neadel trait!).  I specifically remember the point when I started coming home and Rebecca would run up to me and give me a hug (now she barely acknowledges my arrival/existence unless I turn the TV off).  That is when I started wondering why any parent would intentionally work late.  I'm not talking about the tasks that have to get done, rather, the stuff that can get done tomorrow, but you do anyway. Who knows how I'll feel when I am coming home to two teenage girls, but for right now, I walk out of the office and can't wait to see them.  The ability to love someone so unconditionally is pretty crazy and is easily my favorite thing about being a dad.

 2) What has been your LEAST favorite?

Why won't they just listen!!!  I'm serious.  They just don't listen.  (I'm assuming Lila will be the same way.  She eats shoes now even though I tell her to stop, so I guess she is starting early.  Speaking of which, Les, stop leaving your shoes in the middle of the floor.  I don't know if you notice, bur Lila is EATING THEM.)  I understand that Rebecca is constantly testing her boundaries with us, but it drives me NUTS that we ask/tell her to do something and she just straight up ignores it.  With that said, my dad usually has to ask me 15 times to do something when I am down at my parents'

Oh and I guess that I can't just do stuff that I want to do now.  Like going to the movies has to become a production that involves babysitters, bribery and lots of money.
3) What has surprised you the most about being a father?

My level of patience.  I'm not saying it is high now because it's certainly not, but it is definitely higher than it was before we had kids.  As in, I was at a ZERO then, now I'm at a THREE (eh, probably two), but I'm writing this, so I say three.  I also found it surprising that I want to impart my wisdom on them and I love it when I get asked the "why" and "how" questions.  Granted, I would prefer it to be "why can't the Jets find a decent QB" (answer: doomed franchise) or "why is Keith Hernandez your favorite Met?" (answer:  his mustache, of course. Silly question).  But I will take the "why are you going bald daddy?" too.  The answer to that question is the face you see in the mirror, sweet daughter of mine.  

4) What do you want to say to your mom and dad now that you are a parent?

Other than sorry?  To be fair, I'd like to think that I was the third worst son.  I'd say it goes Eric, Jay, then me.  Those two stink.  First of all, Eric cheated/still cheats at Stratego (and gin) and Jay used to put me in a trunk in our family room and sit on top of it.  Pretty sure he could still put me in a trunk if he wanted.  Yes, I am veering off topic here, but that was worth pointing out.

As to mom and Herbie (his name is Irwin and gets aggravated when I call him Herbie, so Herbie it is), how you two put up with the three of us is beyond me.  For mom, I sincerely apologize for ever complaining about the dinner you put on the table after coming home from work.  The nerve I had.  These days, I'm ready for sleep by 3:30 and you used to come home from work way after that and then make dinner for my ungrateful a**.  Evan = ashamed.

Dad, no I didn't give 100% on that test and, yes, if I had I would have gotten a better grade.  Jeez.  Oh and it wasn't me that pulled  that street sign out of the ground and left it our garage.  It was your other youngest son.

Getting serious for a hot second here, I think that becoming a parent made me realize that my parents were just trying to help me learn, grow and not make the same mistakes they made.  I watch you and I do it with Rebecca (and eventually Lila) and  then watch her ignore it with a nice dash of "I don't need your help momm/daddy."  I know it's going to only get worse, but hopefully, one day, they will look back at all the things we tried to do and realize that it was all done with the best of intentions.

Finally, did I mention that I was the third worst son?  Those other two were the pits.

5) What is the best piece of parenting advice you have ever gotten, or that you have for people?

The advice I can give is pretty limited to new parents.  I've told several people that a lot of parents/grandparents are going to tell you what you should or shouldn't do.  For example, "don't do 'x' because then the baby won't be able to fall asleep on her own" or "you shouldn't feed them this because 'blah blah blah'."  Look, you do what you need to do to get by.  If that means rocking your kid to sleep every night till you want to put your head through a wall, you do it because that gets the baby to sleep.  Eventually, they will grow out of it and sleep on their own.  This is your journey.  You are as new to this as the baby is and as those who tell you what you should be doing were when they were in your shoes.  There is nothing wrong with asking for advice and getting ideas of how to handle certain situations, but at the end of the day, you do what's best for your family and everything will work itself out.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

My Big Girls

Last week I attended Rebecca's PreK3 Moving Up celebration. She is on her way to PreK4 in the Fall. We're so proud - we weren't sure she would make it... ;) 

There has been a lot of chatter on the web about making too much of these minor milestones and celebrating every little accomplishment - so this post isn't about that. It's also not about how adorable and sweet the ceremony was, or how proud all the kids were to sing songs that they'd rehearsed for weeks and show off both their class to their families and family members to their friends. 

It's about the simple fact that they were able to do all that. 

As I watched parents around me cry at how fast it's all going and how big they are, I realized I teared up as Rebecca sang because I'm a mush - not because I was sad. I may be in the minority, but I LOVE that she is getting older! I love every task that she masters and each day that she learns something new. I love hearing her sing along to songs on the radio, telling stories of what happened at school that day and playing and talking together all day long (she really does talk all. Day. Long.). She is hysterical and creative and brilliantly smart and it is (ahem - mostly) so much fun to be around my big girl. 

Which made me realize something sort of awful - I don't really like babies. 

I mean... of course I loved MY babies (eventually). And I love holding babies I can give back to their mommies after a little while. But given the chance to hang with a real, true KID? SOLD. 

I just need more feedback and help than a newborn can give. I remember when I was dressing a fairly new Lila, I asked her to push her arm through the onesie. I was so used to dressing a 3 1/2 year old that I had forgotten how helpless newborns really are. That not only did she not comprehend my words, she also barely had the muscles to clench her fists into balls let alone maneuver them through her shirt.  

Truth be told, I don't like feeding babies every few hours, stopping every few minutes to burp them. I don't like the way their head bobbles or their eyes roll around and don't focus. I don't like the questions surrounding what they are or how they might be feeling (Gas? Teeth? Poop? Hunger?) or every thing that they do and whether it is okay or not (the answer? It might be or it might not. No one knows anything for sure about babies.). I don't like the books you read for help that leave you more panick-stricken than you were originally because your baby won't eat twelve ounces in twelve hours (or whatever that particular book says). In fact, I want to write a parenting book called F$&@ the Books. But that's a different post. 

Now that she is nine months old, and Rebecca is "PreK4-girl" as she has requested to be called, I almost feel at peace. I watch Lila crawl and pull herself up and know that any minute now she'll be walking all over our home. Make no mistake, she is still a baby, but she is acquiring skills every minute of every day and I relish watching that happen. And then I turn around and see Rebecca play with Lila and make her laugh constantly. I listen to her make up imaginary scenarios and marvel at her brain. Make no mistake about her, either - she has her moments / tantrums / sass and it's not all sunshine and roses - but my family is complete, and growing up and I absolutely love it.

Friday, June 5, 2015

5QFriday- With a Stay-at-Home Mompreneur -- My Sister!

It's time for another 5QFriday - this time we are keeping it in the fam with my sister, Lauren Baker! All my life I have looked up to Lauren - she was five years older and light years cooler than me, and I followed her around trying to be exactly like her. Five years is quite an age difference, and for most of our childhood years we were at very different stages - and as anyone who knows us know, we are as different as different could be - but we played together as sisters do, making up games, jokes and stories that entertained us for hours.

Once she went away to college and I started high school we became friends by choice, and we have grown even closer ever since she had her children and now I had mine. 

She started her company, Sew Scrumptious, years ago, and as she tells below, it just took off from there. The personalized gifts she has made my girls are some of our favorite pieces of clothing, and the way she has taught herself everything she knows is so inspirational. Now, here are her answers to my 5Qs about being a stay-at-home mompreneur!

  1. What led you to create SewScrumptiousBefore I had children I couldn't wait to have kids and be a stay at home mom. When that became my life I realized I wasn't happy being the family consumer. I missed making money and wanted to create a flexible opportunity centered around something I truly enjoyed. I always liked giving thoughtful, handmade gifts and this business would allow me to do that for others on a much larger scale. The website went live shortly after Amanda's second birthday. 
  2. How have you balanced SewScrumptious and its needs / time demands with being a stay-at-home mom?   The balance is a daily struggle. My responsibilities to my family force me to limit my business hours often. This has improved since Ryan started kindergarten last fall but challenges remain. Other than some pop up boutiques I participate in, that require me to leave the house early and make sure to arrange babysitters or play dates for after school, the business comes second. That's the great part about what I have created- it's in the house and on my terms. That's essentially what allows it to exist as even my terms are not always within my control. You can bet that if I promise a quick turnaround on an order or wait until the last minute someone will be home sick from school or there will be a snow day.  I tend to get my best work done when everyone has gone to bed and the house is quiet! 
  3. What has surprised you the most about starting your own business? I am really surprised what I am capable of! I am so proud that I have created a loyal following and that I create gifts that people truly want to give. The business has evolved over the years and it has been both challenging and fun to learn about new equipment, generate creative ideas and share it all with my customers. Can't wait to see what the future holds in store for Sew Scrumptious (with your help, Les)! [Editor’s Note: Woot woot! Get ready to see Sew Scrumptious everywhere soon….]
  4. What is the best advice you have for a mom who is considering starting a business? I would say, go for it! It has been amazing to see my tiny idea turn into something real. There will always be reasons not to do it. But, if you really want it, technology makes it easier than ever to create and maintain a business presence. You will figure out how to make it work because you will be passionate about it!
  5. What is the best parenting advice you've ever received? Not advice as much as words of wisdom. I was playing with my son outside when a neighbor walking her dog smiled at us and said, "The days are long but the years are short." It's amazing how true this is and I remind myself of this often.  You have to savor each day- the stages pass so fast.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Great Debate: The 'Burbs.

I live in Hoboken, NJ, an amazing town just across the Hudson River from New York City. I admit, I moved here in August 2007 from my NYC apartment somewhat kicking and screaming,but knowing it was the only way to be with my then-boyfriend (who knew he had to propose by the end of that year. He did on December 22. Typical.). It took a while to adjust, especially since my commute tripled in length, but eventually I fell in love with the views, the restaurants, the space and the community.

We bought our current condo in 2009 and the new, uptown location had me fall deeper in love with Hoboken. Trees! Even more space! Brand new restaurants! A ferry commute (best. thing. ever.)! I was smitten. But - no one in our building would really talk to us. We didn't have either of the things that made us fit in - a dog or a baby. Luckily many friends lived in town who knew we were worthy of spending time with, and within a year we were pregnant with our first child.

After having Rebecca, and now again with Lila, I have realized how incredible this town is for raising children. Aside from the fact that you can't walk one block or enter any establishment without tripping over a child's stroller, scooter or a toy that they have flung to the floor, there are tons of options of activities to do with kids (art classes! tons of playgrounds to choose from! baby yoga! indoor playspaces! toddler music classes! baby gymnastics! infant massage! how to make baby food! prenatal meet-ups so they have friends while still in the womb!) and it is virtually impossible not to meet other moms, a staple in maintaining sanity after birth.


Hoboken is still somewhat a transient town. Many people leave after having their second (or third) child, fleeing for the greener pastures (read: yards) and larger square footage of the 'burbs. I can't even count the number of friends we've "lost" to the suburbs, the number of times Evan and I have contemplated if we should be staying or going, or the conversations that I have - even in passing on the street - with other moms who simply ask, "are you staying?" It is the single-most popular topic as kids get older and people in our same situation consider where to raise their children. Where are the best schools? Commutes? House prices? Sigh.

We love Hoboken. We love our apartment, as cluttered as it may be. (I venture to guess that if we had more square footage, I'd just fill all of THAT with crap too!) We love being able to walk to 50 different stores, restaurants, playgrounds and more within five minutes (okay, ten at preschool pace). We can't imagine having to load kids into the car every time we need something from CVS or the grocery store, though of course we both grew up doing so and know that it's doable.

So for us, right now, the benefits of this town and community outweigh what the 'burbs have to offer. Don't be fooled - I scroll through real estate listings every night, fantasizing about what we could afford, what we could do with all that space, and how much we could sell our apartment for (right now? A KILLING. Way to make this debate even harder, Hoboken...).

Then I put down my iPad, grab my girls and some combination of our strollers / infant carriers / ride-on board / scooters, and walk out of our building. We run into friends right outside, and Rebecca frolics on the hill in front of our building with kids she's known since she was born (others who are staying... some for now, some for good, some for another two weeks). We stroll together to the playground where we run into more friends,and then stop for an impromptu lunch or dinner outside a restaurant where they've known us for years. We visit the ice cream place and walk back up the waterfront, gazing at NYC and knowing that this is the best place for us... for now. Right? Right. I think.