It's a boy (again).

Welcome to the world, Lincoln Christopher. :-)
My newest nephew made his entrance today weighing in at 9 lbs. 14 oz.
Now that's a whopper of a baby!
Best wishes and heartfelt congratulations to my dear big sis and her family.


Three generations of ham eaters.

And the descriptor "ham eaters" isn't a euphemism of any kind. We just like ham. A lot.

Eliot is confused in this picture, about why he likes ham, or maybe about why he's sitting on Pa's head. But in time he will come to realize that it's simply part of his heritage. It's in the genes. (The love of ham, not the sitting on people's heads.)

Thanks to Elecia for the great photo! :-)


The real deal, with no commercial interruptions.

I just finished watching the premiere of NBC's series The Baby Borrowers (Why? Who knows? I'm pointing a finger at mental and physical exhaustion leading to inability to turn off the television.), and yeah, the networks are clearly grasping at straws to try to get viewers to tune in, but watching the show did get me started thinking about how I've changed since becoming a parent.

I've always been notoriously short on patience. My family knows me as a moody, grouchy, generally negative person. Proof positive: the "Rachel" face my nieces and nephews love to mimic features pouting lips and eyebrows drawn down as far as possible.

And it isn't that having Eliot has changed all that and made me into Miss Pollyanna Sunshine-Up-My-Ass Mommy. Far from it. I get frustrated and grouchy and fed up still, all the time. Yesterday, after dealing with a cranky, sick, whiny Eliot for too long, I gladly turned him over to his Pa, saying, "Come and get my child and take him somewhere where I'm not!" But that throwing in the towel comes after days, not minutes, like it did for some of the teen couples on Borrowers. Like it might have for a younger version of me.

Being Eliot's mom hasn't turned me into St. Teresa, but it has certainly expanded my ability to be patient, to slow down, to empathize, and to focus my energy and attention on someone other than myself. I've learned to recognize myself getting keyed up and frustrated, and try to get a handle on those emotions before I explode. (Oh but wait, that might not have been Eliot who taught me that; it may very well have been Lexapro. No matter.) When Eliot gets whiny or cries or is just being a general pain in the ass, I try to understand that his means of communication are still very limited. I ask myself what he would be saying if he could calm down and just speak his feelings to me in a rational way. And most of the time, he'd be saying, "Momma, I'm tired, but I just can't sleep," or "I don't feel well, would you please hold me?" or "I'm hungry," "My teeth hurt," "That damned floor jumped up and tripped me again and I hate it!"

Thinking of his whines and cries in this way really helps me to respond differently to him, with more compassion and understanding rather than with a defeated air of "Oh Lordy, he's crying AGAIN." And it also helps me understand him as a person, a little human being, who, though small and dependent, has thoughts, feelings, motivations, and ideas of his own. He isn't just a mindless little blob, like I used to think all babies were. Even from the beginning, he's been a person all his own with his own way of seeing and experiencing the world and reacting to his surroundings.

Sometimes he wakes up in the middle of the night with rockstar attitude, and the translation of his red-faced wails into English would go something like this: "IF YOU DON'T BRING ME MY MOTHERFUCKING BOTTLE NOW, YOU'RE FIRED!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Other times he grunts and whimpers for long minutes and seems to be almost contented with gentle pats on the back and rocking, until he spies an empty bottle on his windowsill, and with a point and a short-clipped, "eh," clearly communicates, "Uh, Momma. What you're doing here is nice and all...but I think I'll just take one of those instead."

So I guess my growth as a person, as a parent, has meant learning to see my child's needs and my fulfillment of those needs not as an inconvenience or a burden to be bourne, not as a job (though it's certainly hard work), but as a complex interaction with another human being. A human being who's worth all of my continued efforts at patience and understanding, even when he smashes peas and throws them on the floor.

These are changes that don't take place while babysitting or borrowing another person's child, even overnight for three days. Perhaps the teen couples on Borrowers will learn that parenting is much more work than they thought, that raising kids puts stress on a relationship, that a baby's continued cries can literally drive one to insanity. Maybe they'll realize that they aren't ready for the responsibility that children bring, and maybe they'll be more compelled to use birth control, which might just be the point of the show. (Well, that and ratings that lead to advertiser dollars, of course. Let us not forget THAT.) But I don't think anyone can realize the spectacular highs and tremendous lows of parenting until they actually become responsible for the life of a little person. A little person who doesn't come with a binder full of instructions, professional nannies standing by in case of emergency, and parents a house away, watching your every move.

When Eliot was born, and I heard his first cries before I was even able to see him, my reaction was a mixture of relief and fear. Relief because it meant my pregnancy had finally come to an end, and I had crossed that finish line successfully with no major mishaps. And fear because he was here, here in the world, and what was I supposed to do with him now? It was definitely an "oh, shit" kind of moment. What have I done now? And throughout the next couple of days and weeks, trying to take care of my newborn son while recovering from major surgery, there were times when I seriously wondered, What The Hell Have I Done? I was angry that no one seemed to talk about how difficult, how really, really, excruciatingly difficult it is to take care of a baby, to be a parent to a child. I felt cheated, in a way. It was like I had put my coins into the slot and pressed the Coke button, only for a Diet Sprite to roll out. This was not what I thought I had signed up for.

But Eliot, by being himself (and not just my imagined fairytale version of what my child would be like), has made me a better version of me. It's because of him that I've had to take responsibility for myself. It's because of him that I finally learned to pay attention to myself, not in a narcissistic, navel-gazing way (although obviously there's still some of that, or why else would I blog?), but in a more mature, adult, "okay let's calmly take stock of what needs to be done and then do it" way. In an "it's time to face reality" way. You know, reality. The world that has nothing to do with tv shows and everything to do with getting up at 2:30 in the morning and getting my rockstar baby his bottle, even when the cameras aren't rolling.


The weekend update.

8:41 on a Saturday night. Eli, Ethan, and Brian are in the living room watching the third Rambo movie, Eliot is in his bedroom snoozing, and I'm in bed blogging.

We've had a nice weekend so far. Eliot actually has been whiny and crabby from Thursday to just this evening, but it's amazing how a couple of hours of delight and giggling can make one forget all that. Well, almost.

I think he might be cutting more teeth. In any case, he's had a low fever off and on and we gave him some Tylenol earlier in the evening, and once it kicked in, he was suddenly the happiest boy alive. He decided that he DOES like the feel of grass on his feet after all, and snorted and giggled his merry way around the backyard as the four of us played washers. He stood up by himself for about 30 seconds, his longest time yet, and was content to walk around with me holding just one of his hands, which usually pisses him off. For whatever reason he decided it was funny and he was all about it. 180 degree turnaround.

He played with the neighbors' granddaughter and let her wheel him around in his little car. He looks like such a big boy in that thing. I followed right along behind, worried that she would propel him down the driveway and into the street if I wasn't within quick catching distance.

Earlier this afternoon we all went to see M. Night Shyamalan's "The Happening" while Eliot stayed with the neighbors. We know them well, but he's never stayed with them before, and I was nervous how it would go, but he did fine. I guess I'm always worrying for no reason. He really CAN function without me.

But he was also glad to see me walk back in the door.

Then later, playing outside, he gave me big slobbery kisses all over my face, and then bit me on the chin. Yow! What a rat.


Green eggs and spam.

Hey, why don't we finally meet and get freaky?

Hmm...intriguing. You almost had me with that one.


June, such as it is.

Behold, yesterday's 12 on the 12th photo collage:

We've (and when I say "we," I mean Eli) been in home improvement mode lately, trying to get this house ready to put on the market in anticipation of either finding a new house, or possibly building a new house. Hence, the new wicker furniture to spiff up the porch and make it seem more like a useable, cozy space, and the new backyard deck that got stained yesterday.

Other highlights from the day include the fluffball mystery novel I'm slogging my way through right now for no apparent reason other than to be reading something that doesn't require the use of any grey matter, Eliot supervising the other Heicher men's work from his stroller + a shot of his adorable little tootsies + a shot of him when he FINALLY decided to take a nap, thank God.

Also, our greasy Little Caesar's lunch, my new beverage obsession, Vitamin Water, which Eli purchased for me in bulk for my birthday (and gave to me early because I looked like I needed cheering up, he said), and my newly shaven legs. I finally shaved them on Wednesday morning, mostly as an experiment to see whether Eli would actually notice. He hasn't yet. It's now Friday. Lending credence to my, "see, it REALLY is pointless" theory.

Then MaMa, Libby, and Gavin stopped over to visit on their way back from hiking in the nearby park. We had a nice, albeit hot and sticky, supper at Dog N Suds, which I forgot to document, so I had to settle for this shot of Lib & Gav admiring my scrapbook. Oh well. It works.

So that was my yesterday. How was yours?


Who's the smartypants now?

So according to Free-IQTest.net, Eli's IQ is 6 points higher than mine.

AND he took the test at 2:30 in the morning when he hadn't had any sleep.

I'm humbled by this.

And mad.

And jealous.

That man just does everything better. How positively annoying...yet sexy.


In sickness and in health.

I'm going to my doctor this afternoon to have him look at my poor, swollen, sore throat. I've been in incredible pain and barely able to talk or swallow since Friday evening. I keep examining my tonsils in the mirror with a flashlight and then making Eli look at them too. He was whining this morning, "Why do I have to look at your throat AGAIN? What do you want me to say? You're sick, okay. Go to the doctor."

I was like, "Listen, Buster. I feel like shit, so the least you can do is look down my throat and share in the horror. And look, my uvula is touching my tongue!"

But to his credit, Eli's been great about entertaining Eliot all weekend and letting me rest. Eliot's been a total Daddy's boy all weekend. I think he's been missing him lately, since he works so much. All day yesterday and Saturday, any time Eli would go outside without him, Eliot would crawl up to the window, stand up and bang on it with his palms and holler, "Dadda, Dadda, Dadda!"

They even took baths together, which was hilarious. It was hard to stay bitter and cranky about not feeling well with all that giggling and splashing coming from the bathroom.

Eli made me promise not to get him in the picture, but here you can see his leg and a barely visible tattoo under the water. Mmmm...leg.

One of the other highlights of the weekend was that we went driving around just to get out of the house, thinking that we might go through some open houses just to look at floor plans and whatnot. (I hate that word, "whatnot." It's a stupid word.) And anyway, as we're driving meanderingly around a subdivision with street names like "Carriage Lane" and "You Can Never Own Enough Eddie Bauer White Button-Down Shirts Drive," Eli pulls to a stop in front of a house and I'm confused because there isn't a realty sign in front. This isn't the one we're looking for. And then he pops the trunk on the car and I see him approach the trash cans and pile of junk by the curb and I'm like, "Oh God, he's stealing something out of their trash," thinking that it's probably some scrap metal or something. But it turned out to be this, with a big sign on it that said "free."

So we went home, hung it in our dining room, and now it looks like we live at TGI Friday's.
But we figure, hey, why not?

We're also still taking bets on what those brownish orange blobs pictured on the right-hand side are supposed to be. I mean, I'm clearly seeing a fruit theme, what with the apple, grapes, and pear, but what are those blobs? Eli originally said mushrooms, while I voted potatoes, but upon further examination, I'm going with really big kiwi.

Now we're just waiting to see what the superdelegates have to say.


Record highs of low productivity.

I've done amazingly little in the last few weeks.

As little laundry and dishes as possible.

Barely any other housework.

Miniscule amounts of cleaning/sorting/organizing/staging the house.

Zero school work (other than reading through my student evals).

Zero scrapbooking.

Zero progress on all of my planned summer projects.

So what HAVE I done?

Hmmm...let's see.

Lots of reading of fluffy mystery novels.

Copious HGTV watching.

As much lounging on my new wicker porch furniture as possible.

Wayyyy too much internet surfing.

And then there's this:

Tadpole. from Rachel on Vimeo.

I spent about triple the time uploading this video to my blog as I actually did filming the thing. And I hate hearing myself on camera. Unavoidable confirmation that I am, in fact, the world's biggest dork.