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*