So long, 2008. It's been fun.














Turns out it really IS better to give than receive.

Santa came to our house last night because this morning was the only morning all three of us would be home and together as a family. As soon as Eliot was in bed last night I stuffed his stocking full of goodies, Eli brought up the tricycle we'd been hiding in the basement and put it under the tree, and we wrapped his other presents.

I was so full of anticipation last night, wrapping presents, drinking hot chocolate, watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation...and I thought, ya know, it just doesn't get much better than this.

Exhibit A: stockings hung from the fireplace with care
(the white one on the end is Mumford's)

Until this morning! Eliot had come to bed with me last night; he was having a hard time sleeping. And Eli fell asleep on the couch watching Lord of the Rings. Again. He always seems to bust out those DVDs around Christmas time to rewatch the whole series. Anyway, Eliot and I woke up, and he was snuggling and chattering to me, all woolly-headed. And after a bit, I said, "Eliot, do you want to go see what kinds of prizes Santa brought you last night?" Because we had talked about Santa Claus coming and that in the morning there would be presents. But he wasn't all that interested. We walked down the hall into the living room to wake up Dad, and Eliot right away noticed through the sunroom windows the tricycle sitting under the tree. He pointed to it and looked at me questioningly. We went out to investigate. He walked round and round it, gingerly touching the streamers on the handlebars, the seat, the wheels. And when I asked if he wanted to sit on it, he nodded his head up and down and said, "uh-huh."

His feet are just barely shy of touching the pedals when they're on the rotation furthest from his foot. It won't be long before he's cruising all over the place on his own. But until then, I've a feeling I'm going to be making many many trips around the living room pushing him!

We rode into the living room, where Dad was still on the couch, and got Eliot's stocking down from the fireplace mantel. He was SO delighted with every single item he pulled out of his stocking, especially the "Chuffy" aka Thomas the Tank Engine fork and spoon. He kept yelling, Dadda, spoon! Spoon, Dadda!" and waving it in front of Eli's face. There was also a six piece wooden train set that he pulled out one car at a time, yelling "choo-choo" with the revelation of each new piece, two Chuffy sippy cups, a Backyardigans DVD, and a package of M&M's.

After his stocking was empty, he took almost as much joy in watching Eli pull goodies out of his stocking, and watching me go through mine. Some of the highlights were a zombie identification guide for Eli and a Japanese book binding kit for me. Turkey giblet dinner for Mumford. Yippee!

A little later in the morning, once we had all gotten cleaned up and dressed, we went back out to the tree for him to open his wrapped gifts from me and Eli. He got the idea about tearing the paper off the gifts immediately. When he saw his Mickey Mouse doll, he exclaimed, "Hot dog!" which of course had Eli and I cracking up.

Exhibit B: "Hot dog!"

The entire morning was almost too perfect, with Eli and I winking and grinning at each other over Eliot's head, and pulling him close to give him kisses every other minute. Like something out of an ABC Christmas special.

I called first my mom and then later my dad, to tell them both how surprised and pleased I am that BEING Santa Claus is three thousand times more fun than getting gifts from Santa Claus. Mom said, "Well, yeah, Rachel!" like this was an incredibly obvious observation that she was surprised I hadn't made sooner, "Why do you think so many parents continue to perpetuate the myth year after year? Because it's so much fun!"

It was. Folks, I'm a Scrooge no longer.

Hope all of your Christmases are just as merry and bright. :-)



Last night Eliot was pulling books off the shelf (a common occurrence). He grabbed a Janet Evanovich and ran into the kitchen to show me, pointing to her picture on the book jacket and hollering, "Ma Ma! Ma Ma!"
He thinks Janet Evanovich is his grandmother. I can sort of see what he's talking about...


Christmas, christmas time is here...

(The bottom strands of lights and garland look so low and sad because some small boy keeps pulling on them, making them ever droopier.)


Well, the Christmas fun is in full swing over here at the Heicher household, despite all of our end of semester, busiest time in CCU madness and stress. Almost every day, Eli's work calls wanting to know if he can pick up a shift, or, if he's already working, come in early. Nevertheless, in the last few days, we managed to make chocolate dipped pretzels, work on homemade Christmas cards, put together a green paper chain for the tree, and sip on some delicious seasonally inspired hot chocolate.

Eli made that for me the other night. Isn't it awesome looking?! AND, he's been helping me make Christmas cards. He must be wanting something special from Santa.

This evening, I'm working (again) on the Christmas cards and deeply inhaling the scent of this amazing candle, one that I believe Mom got for me from a fundraiser of some sort? It's an Ohio Valley Candle, but when I googled them I didn't see this particular scent. Darn shame, because it is DIVINE. It's some kind of vanilla peppermint, and it smells much like my beloved Peppermint Mocha Twist from Starbucks. It's taking all of my willpower not to drink the melted wax.

And if I could find my copy of It's a Wonderful Life (still packed away somewhere?), I'd totally be watching it right now.


Tasty, tasty play-doh.

We've just recently introduced Eliot to the joy of Play-doh, and he really likes it. He cuts it up and gouges it with plastic spoons and forks, mashes it into his table, and occasionally tastes it.

The first time I caught him with Play-doh in his mouth he was playing at his table and I was sitting at the big dining room table opening the mail. I glanced over at him and saw him holding something very small pinched together between his thumb and forefinger. He slowly raised it up to his mouth, and, recognizing it as a Play-doh crumb, I said, in a serious tone, "Eliot--we don't eat Play-doh!" He yanked his hand down from his mouth immediately and looked at me like, "huh? whatchyou talkin' about? i'm not doin' nuthin. just playin."

So I turned my attention back to the mail and out of the corner of my eye I could tell he was watching me. He lifted the entire chunk of Play-doh up to his mouth, slowly, sticking out his tongue to lick it, his eyes on me the whole time. I turned, trying not to laugh, and said, "Eliot, Mommy said no eating Play-doh!"

So he put it down on the table again, like it was no big deal. "Okay, whatever. I didn't really want to eat it anyway."

About a minute later, he casually got up from the table, took the Play-doh, and sauntered into the living room.

I knew exactly what he was doing, so I followed him, and sure enough, he was shoveling Play-doh into his mouth as fast as he could.

So rotten! So I had to confiscate the Play-doh that day, but he has since gotten it back and does pretty well with it.

Unfortunately, however, Eliot's Play-doh modeling skills don't come close to his Momma's. I gots mad Play-doh skills. Check out my purple snail. His name is Gary. And he' s way better than anything I've seen Eliot make so far.



Because fun never goes out of style.

Ah, the beloved Fisher-Price barn with its mooing door and matching silo.

We played at Grandma and Grandpa's over the weekend, setting up plastic fencing and driving plastic chickens and goats around with plastic tractors.

It's pretty cool to watch Eliot play with the same toys Eli and I had when we were kids.


Goodnight, moon.

I hope you saw the moon this evening, because this picture doesn't begin to do it justice. It was a fabulous, enormous ball of pink as the sun went down opposite it. Mog and I stopped the car on our way home from daycare and just stared.

Dear santa.

If Mog were able to write, I'm guessing this is what his letter to Santa would look like this year:

Dear Santa,
I've been a very good boy. For Christmas, I would like:
a) anything and everything Mickey Mouse
b) a book about trains
c) bathtub toys
d) colored Playdoh
e) new Backyardigans DVDs
Also, you should know that I smack and bite my momma not because I am mean, but because it's just so darned hilarious. Can you really blame me? Keep in mind that I am also extremely cute.


Looks like somebody's got a case of the Mondays.

On my mind today:
1) Eliot. We spend all morning yesterday in the emergency room, getting breathing treatments and steroids pumped into him to quell an asthma attack. I'm home with him today instead of at work, feeling semi-guilty for having to cancel classes on the last week of the semester.

2) My December daily album, which I've totally slacked off on. I worked on it a bit over the weekend, but I think finishing it will definitely stretch into January if it happens at all. Too much to do, too little time to do it in!

3) Hoping I'll still be able to go Christmas shopping with Mom tomorrow. If Mog is well enough to stay with Aunt Lecia, that is.

4) Dreading this last round of grading papers...

5) Excited that Mom's etsy shop is doing well. The Christmas season has seen her orders really start to pick up. She's had six sales already today. Yippee! :-)

6) I'm reading The Memory Keeper's Daughter, which I'm really liking so far. Just picked it up yesterday. I like the writing style; it makes me feel and see the snow falling and the hushed tone of the opening chapters.

7) Made toffee squares yesterday (after we got home from the E.R.). The pan is at least half gone already, mostly due to me. Can't help it! I found a Christmas apron that Grandma Bowen made me years ago, so it was only appropriate that I do a bit of baking.

8) Getting ready to wash the quilt that Grammy made me. I'm putting it on the bed for the first time. Scary, and I hate to think of getting cat hair on it, but I also think she made it to be used, and I will use it and cherish it. Cat hairs, toddler drool, whatever. It's all a part of love and life, right?

9) Still trying to decide how to wrap my Christmas gifts. I think I'm going to forego wrapping paper this year in favor of newsprint with pretty tags and ribbons or possibly brown paper packages tied up with strings.

10) The Sound of Music is still my favorite movie. But I'm really disappointed that I didn't get to see Twilight in the theater. Dumb as I'm sure it is. Alas... *sigh*


Counting down.

Growing up, Mom always made us individual advent calendars for the month of December. They were big sheets of posterboard marked off into a calendar grid with one square for each day of the month. Starting on December 1st, we each had a "job" to do, and once we'd completed the job for the day we were free to eat the piece of candy attached to that day.

The jobs might be actual household chores, like "put away laundry," or "dust the living room," or they might be fun Christmas-related activites like "read a Christmas story," or "wear red."

Mom always attached our favorite pieces of candy to the days with jobs she knew would require a bit of effort on our part. In order to get my coveted butterscotch, I'd inevitably have to "be nice to Elecia all day long."

Over at Elecia's last night I noticed Zayda's advent calendar, hanging on her bedroom door. The same posterboard, with the same grid, familiar sounding "jobs," and pieces of candy taped to each day. I love that Elecia is continiuing this tradition. I've thought about the idea of advent several times over the years, mostly in nostalgia for that particular childhood activity, but also considering what I could do to mark some sort of countdown for the season.

Some people have advent boxes that they open each day, with an activity or a piece of candy in them; some people use little decorative houses with a window or a door to open each day. There are all kinds of crafty solutions for advent.

My December daily album has become my advent, in a way, but I still want to do something else to mark the season for all of us: me, Eli, and Eliot, especially. I don't know whether I'll revive the posterboard or come up with something else, but in any case, I can't wait to celebrate advent again and try to live the wonder of the Christmas season all month long.



Tree hunting.

I was foolish enough to think that all Christmas trees are basically created equal. But, no, sir. No, they are certainly not.

You've got your Scotch Pines, your White Pines, your Douglas fir, your Fraser fir, ad infinitum.

The Fraser fir, I must say, is quite beautiful, and is what the tree farm lady called "the Cadillac of Christmas trees." Its price tag reflects its status, however, so we did not end up with a Fraser fir. I actually don't know what the hell our tree is. It's the kind with a bald ring around the entire thing near the top, the kind that leans to the side. The kind that will be guranteed to drop each and every one of its thirty million needles on the floor before Christmas even gets here.

In terms of decoration, I think we can all agree that Christmas trees vary greatly. They all have their own personality, I think. Some say, "I'm sophisticated and elegant." Others, "traditional and timeless." Others still, "funky, retro." Our tree? Our tree says, "I only recently escaped from a locked down mental institution." Yeah, that's right. Cause that's how we Heichers roll.

And, ELECIA! I took the precaution of wearing gloves while I decorated the tree, and while, yes, when I took them off I had red blotchy hives streaking my hands, they spread no further, and disappeared a few short hours after I washed them. It was SO worth it. So suck it, girlfriend!!!

On the first day of Christmas...

Okay, so in addition to my thousand and one other projects in the works, I'm doing this Journal Your Christmas class by Shimelle. I'm planning on incorporating it into my December Daily album, so that I have one December project rather than two. And I sorta missed the first day, so this is a catch up thing. The first prompt is to write a manifesto of sorts, a declaration...
Here's mine:

"For the month of December, I will write SOMETHING everyday. My outlook on life these days is that I want to simply live it, and enjoy each moment to the fullest. Writing helps me slow down, focus on the good, focus on what just is. For so many years I've been extremely Scroogy about Christmas. It has turned into a time of great stress, hurried days, and lots of grumpiness. But with Eliot, I feel like everything is new again. I'm able to get glimpses of the world through his eyes, and experience the wonder and magic of the season all over again. So here it goes. Bring it on, December, I'm SO ready for you! ;-)"


Monday, monday.

1) Back to school, back to school. Two more weeks to wrap up the semester! Couldn't be happier about that.

2) First snow of the season came for us yesterday. Roads are slick today, but it's appropriate for the first day of December, right?

3) The beginning of the December daily scrapbooking album! Fun, fun. I'll try to post my first page later this evening.

4) Poptarts are good. Frosted Chocolate Vanilla Creme is my flavor du jour.

5) First payment on our new house due today! Ah, so many firsts.

6) Showing a film version of Ibsen's "A Doll House" to my 1002 class today. Wherein Torvald is played by a young Anthony Hopkins. I keep expecting him to try to eat Nora.

7) Listening to Pandora Radio in my office. Jack Johnson, John Mayer, Coldplay and the like. Very relaxing.

8) Pondering what to get for my nephew Andrew for Christmas. What kind of gift would appeal to a 14 yr. old boy? Eek. So difficult.

9) Excited about getting a live Christmas tree this year. Going tomorrow to pick one out.

10) Craving Starbucks. *sigh*


Ah, the mixer. A boy's best friend.

He somehow latched onto the mixer and refused to give it back.
And let's face it: it's not like I'm using it.

So we compromised: he can have it as long as he just watches Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with it and doesn't run around the house trying to find an open outlet to plug it into.

Works for me.

On my mind Monday.

1) Just finished Eclipse last night, the third book in the Twilight series. I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but those books are entertaining. Annoying super conservative agenda lurking not so far beneath the surface, and extra cheesy cheese notwithstanding. I like a good guilty trash read now and then. In fact, I stayed up until midnight to finish it. *sheepish grin*

2) Exultant over my weekend update to Mom's etsy shop and the fact that she made a sale immediately after I updated, AND got into a treasury! Whoo-hoo! I'm dragging that woman and her crafts kicking and screaming into the digital age.

3) Still laughing about Zayda and Eliot and their antics this weekend. Seeing them loving each other's company reminds me so much of me and my favorite cousin at that age. (Hey Nic, miss you! *big kiss*)

4) Paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting. (topics of my 1001 classes today)

5) I will eat nearly anything so long as it's covered in chocolate. Exhibit A: the Snickers bar a colleague tucked into my mailbox this morning. I hate peanuts. And I don't care.


There is a simple explanation for this.

It was Dad's idea. And clearly Dad is NOT the parent who carried this child for nine+ months, labored for thirty-six hours to bring him into the world, and then had his uterus cut open to surgically extract him.

No, those delights went to Mom, who's looking on here, on the verge of an anxiety attack, vowing not to let him actually help mow the yard until he's at least twenty, and wondering what it is with boys and tractors. *sigh*


On my mind today.

I have no cohesive, overarching theme for a post today, but I keep feeling the need to blog bristling up against my skin like an itchy tag on the neck of my shirt. Here's what's on my mind today as I teach my classes, hold office hours, rinse, and repeat, in no particular order:

1) It's really cold in my office.

2) Eliot and I spied a "monster buck" out in the yard this morning, drinking from the neighbor's little pond. I think I'm going to love living in the country.

3) I'm planning on getting a new tattoo. Until very recently, I never thought I would get another tattoo. Once was enough for me, thanks. But since Molly died I keep feeling the need to have one, not so much to memoralize her, as to commemorate her passage through my life. Her life and death taught me a lot about living and made me think about the kind of person I want to be. I am.

Right now, I'm thinking the new tattoo will be a phrase written in script on the inside of my right wrist. I was thinking "simply live," but now am considering "embrace life." What do you think? Too hokey?

4) It's really, really cold in my office.

5) I'm 29 years old and I still like Little Debbie snacks.

6) I just bought this delicous pair of gloves and can't wait for them to arrive in my mailbox!

7) Why is it so friggin' cold in my office?

8) There's a movable sign that I pass now every day on my way to and from home, and every time I see it I get the nearly uncontrollable urge to vandalize it. Today it says "USA has turned against God." Last week it said, "Would Jesus vote for the party of abortion?" and before that it said, "Abortion is murder: God said so."

This sign pretty much serves as a laundry list of reasons why I get frustrated with a lot of people who subscribe to organized religion. (And yes, I know you're disagreeing with me already, and shaking your head in frustration, Adriane.) But first of all, who are you (you who maintains the sign) to presume what Jesus would do? I'm pretty sure he wouldn't vote at all. And by the way, voting based upon a single issue while completely ignoring the rest of the country's and the world's problems is ridiculously short sighted. Secondly, use an article in front of "USA." I recommend "The." Third, when did God say "Abortion is murder"? Is that the eleventh commandment? Did I not get that memo? Or did "He" just say it to you personally? Does he call you at home? Do you have a dorsal fin?

9) When I came into work this morning there was a tour group of prospective freshmen roaming about campus. I love that. Seeing those kids, high school seniors on the brink of the rest of their lives...there's just something there that fills me with hope. Yeah, it's hokey, I know. But I'm just like that. (For reference, see #3.) It's one of the reasons I love working on a college campus--this continual sense of renewal.

10) I don't really have a number ten; I just thought the list would look better if I did. And did I mention it's really cold in my office? Like, Antarctica cold?


Making it right.

I'm completely in love with Etsy. And one of the reasons is that buying handmade items from the people who actually made them is so rewarding, for both buyer and seller. I recently bought this light switch plate from Trixie and Radar. Unfortunately, when I received the light plate it was cracked all the way across the back. (Damn postal workers and their rough handling of packages!) ;-)

I sent a message to the sellers, just to let them know what had happened, not expecting them to refund my money or anything like that. After all, I know there are no guarantees in life, and I hadn't purchased shipping insurance or anything like that. I kind of thought it was just one of those things and I'd say, "Oh piss!" and use it anyway. After all, the front part of the plate was still held together by the decoupage and it was still fairly usable.

But Trixie and Radar, bless their hearts, upon hearing the news, immediately and with no questions asked, made and shipped me a brand new lightplate. It arrived the other day in excellent condition and is now happily adorning the wall of the office in our new house.

To me, this is just one example of the complete difference between buying handmade and buying from the big, impersonal box stores like The Pits of Hell (otherwise known as Walmart). Walmart couldn't care less whether I'm satisfied with my purchase. Their idea (and so many other retailers' as well) of customer service is just blow enough smoke up the consumer's ass to keep them buying. Etsyians, on the other hand, want you to love your purchase because it brings you the same happiness that it brought them when they were making it. They feel warm and fuzzy inside when they know their item is treasured and loved. They want you to be happy because they want you to be happy. They provide customer service because it's the right thing to do.

Walmart? Walmart could care less. They provide customer service because they're afraid if they don't you might find somewhere else to buy your cat kibble and your toilet paper and your Lucky Charms. Oh, no, wait. They're not all that afraid, because they've taken extra steps to ensure your loyalty by running everyone else who sells cat kibble and toilet paper and Lucky Charms out of business...

But that's another story.

So, just a public service announcement. This Christmas season, buy handmade! Support local artists and people who take pride in a job well done. :-) Not the money hungry execs who want to grab more and more of your hard-earned dollars to spend on expensive Scotch and high priced hookers.


Words are very unnecessary.

Eliot was absolutely rotten about going to bed this evening. He stayed up a full hour and a half later than normal, until I finally let him cry it out a bit, then went back in and rocked him until he basically gave in to sheer exhaustion.

Apparently, I've let him slip in bed with Momma one too many times. I think he's getting to where sometimes he doesn't want to go to sleep without me. I knew it was a bad idea when I started doing that, but frankly, I have a hard time sleeping by myself too. Once Eli started third shift, I had a really hard time getting to sleep and staying asleep. So when Mog was up in the night I'd just bring him back to bed with me rather than putting him in his crib. He kept me company, kept me warm (that kid is absolutely hot-blooded just like his daddy, and sweats in his sleep), and kept me from getting up and trudging into his room to comfort him forty times a night when he would wake and not be able to get back to sleep on his own.

So, yeah, I've created a monster. But he's a snuggly little monster.

He pushes himself right up against me, usually wedging his head in under my neck, with his toes digging into my fat gut roll. Gross, perhaps, but cozy. I usually have to pick him up and scoot him back over against the wall once or twice during the night because he slowly scrunches closer and closer until I'm falling off the bed.

This nightly routine reminds me so much of the time I babysat Zayda for Elecia when she had to carry the mail. Elecia had to leave early in the morning for work, and Zayda was still sleepy, so I put her to bed with me and she snuggled in and fell back asleep. I couldn't sleep (probably because of the incredibly loud sound of her thumbsucking!), but just lay there enjoying her warmth and the feeling of her fuzzy jammies up against my skin. She had slung her arm around my neck and scooted right up against me, and I just lay there for the longest time feeling so loved.

It was during those early morning moments, snuggled up with my niece, that I knew for the first time, really KNEW, in the most visceral way that I wanted to be somebody's momma.

You remember the old Depeche Mode song,"Enjoy the Silence"? The lines that go, "All I ever wanted, all I ever needed is here, in my arms..."? Yeah, it was like that. And it is like that now, with my son.

And I am grateful for every moment.


Sale pending.

Our house sold after only ten days on the market. We are thrilled and relieved! But also saddened. It's all too real now, the fact that we are leaving this house.

It feels like the end of an era. We're saying goodbye to the first house we bought together, the house we brought our newborn baby home to, the house we spent our twenties in.

Moving on is always bittersweet. There is excitement for what lies ahead, but also a bit of dragging our feet, turning to gaze back fondly on the road we have already traveled.

(Notice from this picture that a) I apparently haven't taken a picture of the house since last winter, before the garage was completed, and b) I have no Photoshop skills. at all. zero.)


I missed my blogoversary!

Just realized that I made my first blog post a little over a year ago--September 25, 2007.
Three cheers for blogging! I have really enjoyed having this space to share photos, record my thoughts, bitch and complain, blather on randomly, etc.

Thanks for listening to me.


Color me happy.

We keep changing our minds on paint colors for the new house. The office is finished, decided, done. The color of the walls in every other room still hangs in the balance. I start off browsing paint chips, thinking for our bedroom I want to go with something warm and slightly orange. But the names of the colors distract me, and I end up fixating on paint chips with names like "warm comfort."

Ah, yes, of course "warm comfort" is the color with which I should surround myself. Isn't it obvious? "Warm comfort" with perhaps an accent wall of "misty memories."

Except that "warm comfort" and "misty memories" are both purple. I can't abide purple. I don't know why--it's just always been my least favorite color. I've been a big fan of green for years. And all earth tones in general. But lately I've been more of an orange lover, and brown. Brown is also my friend.

And yet, I find myself drawn to "distance" and "quiet storm," both in the blue color family. And who wouldn't love to wake up every morning to walls of "warm muffin" or "bagel"? (Except that they're both the color formerly known as yellow.)

This is my dream job--naming shades of paint. When I grow up, this is what I want to do. Obviously the goal is to find a designation that conjures up warm and fuzzy feelings from people, so much so that they purchase the paint (which cannot be returned) before realizing that it is in fact some hideous shade of putrid baby vomit. Then, ideally, they'll fall in love with another brilliantly named hue to cover their putrid baby vomit walls. I already have some great ideas.

How about "alopecia"? It will be a lovely buff color, with just a hint of peachiness. It's got a ring to it, doesn't it? Thought so.

Next up, "burnt hominy," the color of unhappiness. Yellow.

For the green family, we will have "verdad" representin'. As in, "honestly, that is the ugliest shade of green I've ever seen in my life."

Round things out with "montrous hunger pangs," otherwise known as brown, and "truthiness," a coordinating off-white color.

And finally, "delirium." It will be purple.


Our house is officially on the market!

Here is the blurb from the real estate listing:

"You will be taken by the charm of this extremely well cared for older home in a quiet, low traffic neighborhood. Newer furnace and roof and many improvements and updates. Square footage above does not include the 12 x 48 finished and carpeted attic area. A complete list of improvements is in the office. See this one today. It won't stay on the market very long at this price."

Nice. Couldn't have written it better myself.

Link to pictures. Should have taken Mog's swing down before the picture taking. Oops.

Word of the day.




There are so many different types of love.

Eli and I have a steady flame, cultivated and carefully tended over the years. It began as a spark that ignited between us and grew. Some days it burns brighter than others. We each add small bits of kindling to it from time to time, to keep the fire burning on those days when neither of us is paying attention. For thirteen years, now, our fire has burned. It has never gone out. I am confident that it will always be there, warming us. Inviting us to draw nearer each other.

Molly came into my life like a flash fire. Unexpected, and out of control. And while people who loved me warned, “Don’t touch that: It’s hot,” what could I do but stick my whole hand in, just to check? Molly burned too brightly and too ragingly, until her fire consumed itself and went out. There was nothing to sustain it. It kept going, crazily, and of its own accord, until one day it didn’t. And now there is a profound coldness in my heart, there where the fire once was. And there are burns, with their awful red aching throbbing, but which are bound to heal, in time. Leaving the faintest of scars along the fire’s path, marking the route it took as she raged through, leaving not only me, but all of us to stand in her wake and wonder, with nothing to do but shake our heads and marvel at our own ability to survive.

(I am still reeling from this loss. I know I will be okay, but in the meantime, I desperately need to be buoyed up by the people who love me. Are you guys out there? If you are reading this, please comment on this post, just to say hi. Just show me you are there and that I'm not alone.)


Books and blocks and trains, oh my!

We are in love with the library. Tonight when we needed to get out of the house so that the realtor could show it (our first showing!), we went to the library to hang out for awhile.

They have a Thomas the Tank Engine train set with magnetic train cars and a winding track, wooden blocks, and all manner of other toys, in addition to shelves upon shelves of books.

Eliot loves it here. When we visit during the day, we always make the long climb up the stairs to the third floor to say hello to our friend Kate, the coolest reference librarian in town. (Hi, Kate!)

Other momentous happening of the day: the haircut! Check it out. He's a big boy now. No more being mistaken for a girl.


He knows me.

Me: "Um. Why are you smelling my breath? Trying to gauge how many drinks I've had?"

Eli: "Yeah. Two."

Me: "Hey--nice work! And what were they, do you think?"

Eli: "Margaritas."

Me: "One of them."

Eli: "A margarita and a beer. You had the margarita first. The beer was a Miller Lite bottle."

Me: "Close, but no bananas."

Eli: "Miller Lite draft."

Me: "You know me too well."

Eli: "I've known you a long time."

Me: "Nearly half our lives."


Adventures in bedtime.

Eliot wakes at 1:00 a.m. last night (well, technically this morning, I guess) and can't get back to sleep. I pat his back, put his nuk back in his mouth, and pull his blanket back over him.

Nothing doing.

This is pretty typical. We rarely go a night without being up at some point around here. I've gotten into the habit of just bringing the little man to bed with me when he wakes up, since Eli works nights now and it's just me most of the time anyway. So even though Eli is home, I scoop up the boy and bring him back to our bedroom.

And for awhile we lay there, the three of us together, a curved line of bodies, big, smaller, smallest, like nested dolls. I have a few delicious "ahh...this is what it feels like to savor the moment" moments, until Eliot, who still cannot get to sleep, starts running his hands up and down my arm, feeling my face, pausing to pinch my nose...all the while talking and babbling in a semi-whisper that grows louder with each passing minute. As the clock ticks away into the morning.

Soon, Eli abandons us for the couch and I scoot over, hoping I'm out of range of the roaming, pinching fingers. After awhile, it becomes clear that burying my head under my pillow and hoping he will just go to &%!ing sleep already is not working, I pick Eliot up, carry him back to his own room, and deposit him soundly back into his crib.

Sometimes this works and he goes back to sleep.

Nothing doing.

This is that point in the story where time becomes irrelevant and the world seems to pause as I am caught up in an endless cycle of insanity. All I know is that while Eli snoozes away on the couch, I make a bottle, feed Eliot, rock him, read bedtime stories to him, bring him back to my bed to snuggle again, return him to his crib again, all to no avail.

By 2:30 I wake Eli up, saying, "Look, the kid won't go back to sleep and I don't know what the hell else to do with him." By this point he has been coughing for awhile, too (he's had a cold he can't shake for almost two weeks now), so we give him some Benadryl to try to dry up the nose, thinking that drainage is making him cough, keeping him up.

After 3:00, I think it is, we give him a breathing treatment, and he falls asleep to the loud humming of the nebulizer. As soon as the nebulizer is turned off, he wakes up again.

*sigh of extreme exasperation*

So Eli turns the nebulizer back on. Eliot falls asleep.

Now what? We can't leave the nebulizer running all night long. (Well, all that's left of it, at this point.) Finally, finally, finally, we get the idea to put my laptop in his room and leave it on playing classical music. I get out the computer, boot it up, wait thirty years for it to find my internet connection, and navigate to Pandora Radio. We choose a classical piano genre station, shut off the nebulizer, and scurry back to bed too anxious to even be optimistic.

We lay and wait. Will it work?

We whisper cautiously: "Too bad there isn't a 'nebulizer' station."

"Or a 'vacuum cleaner' station."

"Maybe there's a 'Rachel's breath stinks' station."

"Oh yeah? Well, probably there's an 'Eli's stomach is making freaky noises' station."

Somewhere between our delirium and hilarity, we all fall asleep. And stay asleep until morning.


Busy, busy.

I haven't posted over here in awhile because I've been busy over here. I do plan on continuing this site, though, so don't give up on me just yet!

Between the moving process, work, and keeping pace with the mogwai, I barely have the energy to crawl between the sheets at night, let alone do any of the extra fun stuff I normally enjoy.

So, tata, my darlings. Until later! :-)


He's 30 today.

Yep, that's my babydaddy, at age 1. Check the bow-biters. Sweet!
And how much does Eliot look like him?

Happy birthday, sweetie. I love you so much.


And so i did.

I've started a second blog, inspired by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. I'm hoping it will serve its intended purpose as just another way for me to stop, drop, and roll. That is, to live more in the moment, to breathe more deeply, to love more fiercely.

You can check it out here. You're always welcome.

Join in.

The Beckoning of Lovely

I just discovered this and it made me cry. I think I'm in love.


New digs.

We finally found a great little house in the country, and we close on it in just a couple of weeks. As though this week didn't contain enough insanity and stress (with Eliot's surgery), we had to go out and buy a house. Yep, we Heichers know how to do it up right.

The house was built in 1971 and most of the interior decor is from 1971. Green textured carpet, bathroom flooring with sparkling flecks, the whole nine yards. Our first order of business is going to be re-carpeting and painting, but the rest of the updates can wait until after move-in.

We'll have about two acres of yard. The picture above is taken from our yard looking towards the side of the house. If you go up onto the deck and into the house, you'd come into this huge sunroom, which was a later addition to the house.

And this is the crowning glory, as far as Eli is concerned: a large outbuilding that will be home to his boat, fishing stuff, tools, etc. The manshed. He and Mumford might just take up residence out there, and Eliot and I will live in the house. *ha* kidding...er...sort of.

Here's the little man, expressing his approval. Now that he's got a yard to run around in, I suppose he'll be wanting a puppy. Not if Mumford has anything to say about it.


A mind at work.

This morning Eliot was looking through one of my scrapbooks and stopped at a picture of his cousin Zayda. He began babbling incoherently and pointing at the page. So I said, "Yes, that's Zayda. Can you say 'Zayda'?" But he pointed insistently at the buttons framing her photograph, so I said, "Oh, you mean buttons? Those are buttons." And he immediately pulled up his pajama shirt and pointed to his bellybutton! I had to laugh. The way he makes connections like that amazes me.

Later in the afternoon, we were all sitting on the front porch and I absent-mindedly commented to Eli, "Man, it's hot out here." Hearing me say the word "hot," Eliot pursed his lips and began blowing out air. (Like we would do for bites of hot food before eating them.)

Another day this week we were out for a stroller ride and Eli and I were talking to each other; I mentioned something about the cat, and sure enough, the meowing started up from the stroller, and our boy meowed for another two blocks! Only he says, "Bao bao" instead of "mao mao" for some reason.

He's always listening, always pondering, always turning things over in his mind. I love the way his thought process is almost visible; I can tell by the expression on his face when he's thinking something through and when he comes up with some great idea. He'll cock his head to the side when he hears a noise, and then straighten back up when he realizes what it is--a motorcycle, a school bus, a train going by.

And he's so much a part of our conversations these days, with his own contributions. I love the way he joins in.

And his little bellybutton is pretty cute, too. :-)



Eliot came through the tube placement surgery just fine.

I'm fairly sure today was the first day in his life when Mom and Dad got up in the morning before he was awake. We had to report to the out-patient surgery office at 6:25. As fretful as I was about the surgery beforehand, it was nothing compared to the nervousness I felt this morning. I felt the same as if I would be undergoing the procedure myself--upset stomach, nerves jangling. I almost threw up this morning brushing my teeth. I've honestly never felt that level of anxiety on behalf of someone else before. I guess it's really because in a way, Eliot isn't "someone else" to me. He feels like a part of me still, and probably always will. Yeah, I know. That's original isn't it?! Your child feels like part of you? Really? But I swear, I've been shocked and partly dismayed to learn since becoming a parent that every cliche I've ever heard about parenthood and babies is absolutely true. EVERY single one.

But anyway...

It scared the hell out of me for Eliot to be given Versed, known fondly to those in the medical biz as "the liquid hammer." Even though I knew it would make everything easier for him and his doctor and nurses. Soon after taking the medicine, he started to get groggy and loopy, grinning and giggling at the nurses where before he had turned shyly away and burrowed his face into my neck. They came to take him back into the operating room, and I wasn't sure I could walk out of pre-op and back into the waiting room without wilting into the floor. But I did.

Less than fifteen minutes later, the doctor was back to tell us that he was finished and everything had gone fine. Eliot was starting to wake up already and was drinking a bottle.

This was my first clue that he wasn't himself, because we hadn't brought a bottle with us to the hospital (he only takes them before bedtime now), and he absolutely, vehemently refuses to drink from any bottle but the ones at home with the discontinued Playtex nipple design. (Damn Playtex and their discontinued, hard to get nipples!!!) So I knew he was out of his mind.

Sure enough, by the time we made it back to get him (relief literally flooding through me as the nurse transferred him into my arms), he was starting to really get angry. He laid in my lap as limp and uncoordinated as a blob of jelly dripping off a biscuit, but managed to work up the muscle strength to fling the bottle and his pacifier across the room and begin to flail his arms around wildly, smacking me in the head repeatedly.

To make a long story, let's face it, not that much shorter, he was severely pissed off at me and Eli for the rest of the morning. Screaming, hitting, throwing himself in the floor. Finally, after about thirty years of this, he fell asleep on my lap on the couch. I snuggled him a bit before transferring his limp little body to his crib, and then he slept for three. hours. straight.

And woke up his charming, sweet, calm, collected self.

Welcome back, buddy. :-)


"Surgery" is a scary word.

My baby--who's no longer quite such a baby, after all--is having surgery tomorrow. And it's just tubes in his ears and everyone says he'll be fine, no big deal. But it scares me.

Think about us tomorrow, and send happy, healthy thoughts our way.


You can call it fall if that's what you please.

We've been spending a lot of time outside, now that the days aren't quite so blistering hot and Eliot is steady enough on his feet to wander about the yard and push his shopping cart back and forth and up and down the driveway. My uncle gave Eliot three pumpkins from his garden yesterday, so we've been stacking the pumpkins up in his shopping cart, hauling them across the driveway, and unloading them on the neighbors' bench, then repeating the same over and over again. Eliot likes to pick them up one by one, straining with all his little toddler might, and then throw them and yell "uh-oh"as though their wobbly rolling down the driveway were some unexpected accident.

The neighbors are on vacation and we've been bringing in their mail, so I figure we're well within our rights to use their bench and play in their landscaping rocks. First he was having fun just pouring a cupful of rocks from one cup to the other, but today Eliot got the brilliant idea to try to put rocks in his ear. Because, as you all know, bodily orifices make great storage space for objects we might want to play with later.

I can just imagine the consultation with the ENT specialist after Eliot's surgery on Wednesday: "Well, ma'am, when we began to insert the tubes, we found that your son's ear is actually full of gravel." Ah-ha! Suddenly everything makes so much sense.

(His shirt, compliments of Aunt Lecia, reads, "My parents are exhausted." And, oh, is that the understatement of the year.)


L-O-N-G day, or Way too many ellipses for one blog post.

We've had a rough time of it lately, all three of us snapping and whining and yelling at each other.

Eliot has been battling his asthma again, starting with a rough attack last week that culminated in another visit to the doctor, another round of steroids, round-the-clock breathing treatments, a new antibiotic for ANOTHER sneak ear infection, blah, da blah, da blah--to infinity and beyond.

Eli imagined a relaxing long weekend of fishing, which didn't happen because of other commitments that turned out to be much more involved and grouchiness-invoking than he had imagined.

I've been trying to go with the flow; I swear I have, but it's been difficult. I'm pretty sure I told (well okay, more like "snapped at," than "told") Eli this morning that I was sick of hearing his stupid voice. So I've gotten not only to the point of yelling at my loved ones, but yelling grade school level barbs and insults. I half-expected to hear back that he's rubber and I'm glue...

But the morning had begun with an almost forgotten doctor's appointment and quickly gone downhill after that...

We were sitting around the breakfast table at Eli's parent's house, Eliot smearing biscuits and gravy into his hair, me mentally beginning the list of odds and ends still to be gathered together and organized and packed for our trip back home, when Eli dreamily wonders aloud, "Hmmm...doesn't Eliot have a doctor's appointment sometime this morning???"


It's 8:30. The appointment is for 10:00. It's an hour's drive home. I'm wearing yesterday's clothes stained with snot and other toddler detritus. There are dirty dishes in the sink. Our stuff strewn all over the house. The boat isn't yet hooked up to the truck. Our kid is sporting a thick paste of gravy on his forehead and in his hair.

In short, we are all screwed.

And that's how the day began. Fast forward to this afternoon, where I'm trying in vain to keep Eliot quiet enough for Eli to catch a few hours of sleep before work. It's not enough, apparently, for me to be holding him--he has to try to scale me, digging his little toes into my gut and clutching desperately at my neck.

The only time I am able to pry him off of me is during our visit to the public library, an unfortunately short-lived trip, as I could NOT convince Eliot that it MIGHT be a bad idea to lick puzzle pieces. Puzzle pieces that have undoubtedly passed through dozens of other sets of grubbly little toddler hands, and likely, mouths. *shudder* But this was all he wanted to do. Read books? Push the little magnetic train cars around the track? No! Not when there are delicious puzzle pieces here, just waiting to be tasted.

So we return home, where he commences the whining, crying, climbing once more. It's as though his goal is to perch on top of my head. This continues until Eli's parents stop by for a quick visit on their way home, and Eliot morphs into a grinning, giggling little imp, running around the living room in circles, chasing a ball, dancing, performing. Showing off all his best moves.

Then Grandma and Grandpa leave, and he is immediately beside himself again.

Some days bedtime just cannot come soon enough...


I love the smell of new school supplies in the morning. (and allusions to films that have nothing whatsoever to do with this particular blog post)

Today was the first day of the new school year--full of fresh, shiny, eager new freshmen faces. I love beginnings. Everything is new and full of hope. I've always connected this sense of rejuvenation and beginning with the fall season rather than spring; I guess because I've always loved school. I loved being a student and I love being a teacher. There's nothing that screams potential to me louder than freshly sharpened pencils and blank lined paper. I even love the smell of pencil shavings and book bindings. Yum!

One of my top all-time favorite romantic lines in a movie is when Tom Hanks tells Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail that if he knew where she lived he'd send her a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils. Ah, bliss! :-)
Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what?

This year my mom sent me, not a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils, exactly, but pretty close. She got me these pencils made of recycled denim. What could be sweeter than your mom still buying you new school supplies when you're nearly thirty years old? hehehe. She said she saw them and thought of me. I knew there was a reason I loved that woman. Besides that she lent me space in her womb for nine months, of course. There's always that.

So here's to a brand new semester, with all its untapped potential!
Cheers! :-)


An album of favorites.

For Libby's birthday, I made her a fill-in album of favorites. It has pages for her to record 14 of her favorite things, with categories like tv show, quote or saying, school subject, color, etc.

Some pages have photos of her, and some are just paper and embellishments.

The last page says "favorite sister," and I've taken the liberty of filling that one out for her! ;-)

I used a chipboard album and covered it with "RockStar" papers from Die Cuts With a View. I've had this 8x8 stack of papers for a long time and have been wanting to use them on something, but just hadn't gotten inspired yet. Everything else I used was also from my way-too extensive stash of goodies. I keep saying I've got to use up some of the stuff I've got before I buy anything else, so I did that here. It was cool to go through all my stuff and pull out products I was excited about and then put away and never did anything with.

I think this album turned out really well. I always like the results when I just play around. It ends up being a great stress reliever and it seems like I come up with my favorite designs when I'm just messing around. :-)