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'I Found My Way Back'

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Homer Laffoon, you may not believe this one day, but when you were 4 years old, you said you didn’t ever want to leave home. “He told me that he never wants to get old enough that he wouldn’t live with me,” says his proud mother, Anne Heche. “I just melted.”

Of course 2006 has been an especially satisfying year for Mom too. She has a new job as the star of the ABC dramedy Men in Trees, a new place to live (in Vancouver, where the show—set in Alaska—is actually filmed) and strong support from her husband, Coley Laffoon, who stays home with little Homer while Heche heads off to work. “It’s a very special feeling to have created a [routine] for my family that we all really like,” says Heche, 37.

Life wasn’t quite so serene six years ago. Following her breakup with her partner of 3½ years, Ellen DeGeneres, Heche made headlines when she had a nervous breakdown in 2000, an event she chronicles in her 2001 book Call Me Crazy, in which she also discusses her troubled childhood. The road leading to her current life “was very winding and treacherous,” Heche admits. “But you hopefully have a journey where you can get healthy and find love, and fortunately I did.” The day of her breakdown “was the most important day of her life,” says Laffoon. “She made a decision to move on. That doesn’t make it a bad time. She didn’t do anything to hurt anyone.” Today, says Laffoon, “she is actually the most normal, together, healthy person. It’s hard for people to get that.”

When Heche and Laffoon, 33, got married in 2001, they hatched a “five-year plan” that allowed for Heche to have a flexible schedule for the first few years of Homer’s life before lining up a steady TV gig. So when the producers of Men in Trees came calling, not only did it fit in with Heche’s grand scheme, she felt prepared for the role, a relationship coach who hits rock bottom after her own marriage plans fall apart. “It’s somebody who thinks she has it all and then has the rug pulled out from under her,” says Heche, munching on carrot sticks in her trailer between scenes. “Been there, done that! I’ve been to the bottom. When I read the script, it was instantly like, ‘Wow! This I know how to do.'”

These days Heche, calm and matter-of-fact, prefers to focus on her current bliss, perking up when Coley and Homer are mentioned. “He’s an incredible husband,” she says of Laffoon, who met Heche while working on a video project for her and DeGeneres but is now a full-time father. “When I was going on The View, he said, ‘Can you please just tell them I’m a stay-at-home dad?’ He takes it very seriously,” says Heche. “I’ve given myself another title,” adds Laffoon. “I’m a partner in our business and our life and a stay-at-home dad.” In fact, he’s ready to expand his duties. “We’d all be up for another child,” he says.

Meanwhile Heche has taken everyone on Trees under her wing. “I want to create an environment where people want to come to work and people love the work that they do,” she says. So she’s turned her trailer into a clubhouse where castmates hunker down in beach chairs to rehearse lines, play cards or listen to tunes. “I play everything,” she says. “My husband fills my iPod with music, and it just runs all day long. Jazz, reggae … this is D’Angelo right now. It just depends on the mood. Sometimes we’ll rock out if we need a boost.”

As much fun as she’s having at work, Heche can’t wait to get home tonight and tuck in her son. “Family’s the most important thing to her,” says Laffoon. Often she gets home after Homer has gone to sleep (although she’ll still “wake him up in the middle of the night and nose-kiss him,” adds Laffoon), but on her shorter days, she’ll whip up a batch of her homemade sugar popcorn, plop on the couch with her husband and son and settle in for some TV or another viewing of The Incredibles. “It’s a good life,” she says. “Part of my five-year plan was to be happy; that was the No. 1 part. And I couldn’t be better.”