Sunday, June 25, 2017

Cold Front at the Ricks Residence

We had another fun week full of clogged drains and sibling rivalries, peppered with a little bit of sleep. It wasn't all that bad, actually. We had the kitchen sink working fine for a few days and then the clog came back. I finally swallowed my pride and called the landlord about a plumber. He said that the pipe is very old, so the clogs are bound to continue, although he cleared it out well enough that it should last some time. The landlords are probably going to replace it in the near future. Nice to know that it wasn't that we were doing something weird. 
The kids have been hot or cold with each other. They are either best buddies or worst enemies (or separated by walls), and it's almost impossible to predict until it's happening. I thought the heat might have something to do with it, but then yesterday was a gorgeous 74 degrees (Fahrenheit), and Carver and Avey could not seem to coexist. At this point I just figure we're the subject of some strange voodoo training project, and it will eventually end, or they will move out. 
We even got them out of the house for a good long while, but it did not seem to quell their cabin-feverish behavior. There was a big picnic for Kira's ward at a park, so we all enjoyed the pleasant weather. Unfortunately, it may have been a little too pleasant; there is a splash pad at that park, and naturally the boys were dying to get drenched. We packed their swim gear just in case they had their little hearts set on it, but we tried to explain that the cool air would just make the water feel cold. Hakan was the first to metaphorically dive in, and had the time of his life for about 10 minutes before succumbing to the cool. Carver followed suit. Avey thought better of it, and read a book. Merritt enjoyed running around in the puddles, but steered clear of the sprays as much as he could. After a while, the older kids all played in the sand of the volleyball court.
I'm not sure why all of my pictures and videos from the week are of Merritt only. I must not have been fast enough with the camera in the rare moments that the other three were getting along. I will redouble my efforts to find them in the coming week.

I spent some time experimenting with our network to see what was causing our wireless to go out every now and then. I figured it out and got that repaired, so I am pretty thrilled to have that taken care of.

There's not much other noteworthy news, but more is sure to follow...

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day Tribute 2017 By: Kira

Wow! Eli has been an A+ dad for 9.5 years now! I may have covered it all in past posts, but nonetheless here goes!
Eli is an awesome dad. Each of our kids at the dinner table tonight told him things they like/love about him. They mostly talked about how he plays with them, chases them, and is a human jungle gym. He truly is a very good playmate, both with physical games and with quizzing/question games at the dinner table.
He rarely explodes with anger, unlike me, and is so good at lightening the mood. He calms my extremes and craziness, for which I am very grateful. In addition, he does most of the dishes, most of the trash, all the haircuts and baths, etc. Truly, if you add it up, I'm not really sure what I do around here!
I am humbled and grateful and in awe of this man, the fabulous father to our children.
With love, Kira
PS I opted for honoring my father differently this year than on this blog, but he's still awesome too!

Happy Father's Day 2017

I am beginning to resemble a broken record, I know, when I say that this was a busy week. Quick tangent - does one still use that simile or is it too dated? Perhaps I should say, "I resemble a corrupted .mp3," although that doesn't necessarily repeat itself, so maybe we need a new figure of speech. I digress...

In any case, this was a busy week. I spent nearly all of Tuesday at Costco with Avey and Carver. It's a good 20 minutes away for us anyway, and then we had to restock just about all of our reserves. This last semester I went to another campus on Tuesdays that is right next to a Costco, so I would just pick up whatever we needed each week, but because that convenience is gone for now, we let our resources get to bare bones, as it were, before payday. Avey and Carver wanted to come on the long and boring trip because of the legendary cheap frozen yogurt they serve, along with enormous pizza slices (I split it between the two, and Carver couldn't even finish his.). We are now fully stocked again: both our cupboards and our tummies. 

We also had a couple of days with some friends Carver's and Hakan's ages. Their family is moving, so Kira offered to have their oldest two boys over so that the parents could concentrate on packing. The boys had a blast, and we did it again on Saturday while I went to help them load the truck. All of the extra noise and general chaos wore us old people out, but we were glad to help.
As Avey and I are both home for most of the summer, we both seem to be in a mood to make projects. I replaced our screen door stopper, because it would always bang shut, which we feared would wake sleeping people. After a few adjustments, now it closes so quietly it's hard to notice. Avey has a mind to get her desk more presentable. Now that she cleaned it for her aunt's visit (weeks ago), she wants to paint it her favorite color (aqua). She is even thinking of painting the top surface with whiteboard upon which she could doodle. Now that our week of prior commitments is over, maybe we can get to that.

The boys all seem a bit restless. Hakan seems like he needs an adventure each day, and so he resorts to pushing Carver's buttons. I think we may need to get that kid into a gymnastics class or something so that he can be wild and tumble where people aren't napping, and who also want to tumble. Carver plays with him well when he's in the mood, but they just annoy each other when he's not in the mood. Merritt tries so hard to be like one of the big boys, but often just gets in Hakan's way. He'll see Carver and Hakan taking turns tumbling on the couch, doing somersaults and such, and he wants to try too. The problem is that he's likely to just roll right off the couch and onto the floor, so he needs constant supervision to be kept safe, and out of his brothers' way. Maybe when they're all older, they can go do yard work together for entertainment (Don't burst my bubble on Father's Day.).

This coming week promises to be a little easier. The weather should be cooler than usual, and we have fewer obligations on the schedule. I'm sure the little ones will find a way to make it interesting, though.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Warming Up To Summer

Avey is glad to be done with school. She and I discovered how to check out eBooks through our library directly onto her computer, so now she's zipping through them like they're nothing. She's also working hard to stay in her pajamas for the entire duration of the summer break, so we'll see how that works out. 
We had a heat wave come through in the last couple of days, so we're realizing how spoiled we've been with the mild winter and cool spring. We're avoiding turning on the oven at almost all costs, and the air conditioner is running almost constantly, but we still seem to be too hot most days. To try and cool off, we've taken the kids to our local splash pad, and done what we can in our own backyard. It's amazing the games one can imagine with little more than a hose, a wading pool, and a heat-driven desperation. 
Otherwise, we've been dealing with a lot of house issues. We've been holding ants at bay for several weeks now. They found some way into our dining area, which is a real problem because we can't seem to keep food off of the floor for more than a couple of minutes. I sprayed a perimeter, and they were gone for about a week at a time, but just in the last couple of days they seem impervious to the same spray. I've been trying to find where they are coming in with little success, but I think I've narrowed it down. No sign of them today, so they may be waiting for me to let my guard down...

Monday of last week I finally got the stupid clog out of the kitchen sink. It was my fourth attempt with liquid clog remover, but this time it did the trick. It lasted a good long while, but of course there's a clog today [sigh].

I am finally feeling like I am getting some headway on my course prep, so that's nice. I was asked to attend a meet-and-greet on campus earlier in the week, where I checked out my new office. It is smaller than my old one, but still plenty large and nice. I'll move into it sometime in August. There were recently some personnel cuts at my university, and there were some fears that my contract would not be renewed, but those were quashed this week when I received official confirmation that I was not at risk of losing my position. That does not mean I'm guaranteed a renewed contract, but at least I missed the wave of layoffs.

Kira scheduled a trip to visit her sisters in Utah for a well-deserved and overdue vacation. She's completed work with one set of clients and is advertising for more, so we hope to get that running soon.

Tensions between the kids are high, but there have been no hospital visits thus far, so that's a plus.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Plumbing

I am presently struggling to compose a sentence, thanks very much to our youngest. Last night was his worst in a very long time - he went to bed early, and relatively easily, but then tossed and turned starting at about 11. Kira tried nursing, then we tried pain medicine, then I rocked him, then I took him for a drive. He feel asleep on the drive and even let me move him from the car seat to his bed without waking. That was about 1:30 a.m. After about 5 minutes in his bed, he popped right up whining. Kira nursed again and finally got him down until about 6 a.m. You might think that he would nap extra long this morning to make up for it, but you'd be sorely mistaken. Fortunately, he's built up a reserve of adorableness points with us, so we'll let this one run its course.
Summer officially reared its head this week, with mixed reactions. Kira and I are a little panicked about the heat's toll on our own energy levels, but the kids are pretty thrilled at the new possibilities of entertainment that involve water. To commemorate the heat wave, I took the three oldest to our nearby splash pad and playground, where blasts were had by all.
Carver, who is usually our most hesitant child, was quite wary of how cold the water felt in contrast to the hot air, but he eventually got lost in the adrenaline of it all. They all took breaks to warm up again on the playground, where Hakan showed off his upper body strength. I'm not saying I'm unimpressed, but when you weigh about as much as a loaf of bread, it's not that hard to do. Still, he's brave to try new things, as usual.
Throughout the week, my biggest headache has been a clog in the kitchen sink. Usually, a little liquid drain remover will make pretty short work of it, but I've tried that 3 times now with no success. I even took a trip to the hardware store to buy a 20' tool to remove the clog, but the way our pipes are laid out, I couldn't get it more than 5' down. I suppose I should be less stubborn and just call someone.
This is Avey's last week of school before her break, and then she gets to try and avoid her brothers for the rest of the summer. We'll see how well that works out...

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Auntie Hannah

This week was full of fun and devoid of sleep. My sister visited for the celebration of Hakan's birthday, so we tried to maximize our time with her. We spent most of Monday acclimating to the change. The older three basically tackled her, with the two older boys fighting to monopolize her attention. She was patient and generous, even though she must have been exhausted from her early and long flight.
Watching the Outdoors
On Tuesday, she and Kira attended the LDS temple in the area. Traffic and travel kept them gone for several hours while I kept the kids from descending into complete anarchy, and then we enjoyed some of Chicago's finest stuffed pizza for our dinner.
Relaxing at the Conservatory
Wednesday became a bit of a down day while we adults tried to squeeze a movie in between the feeding flurries and hailstorms of poopy diapers. We watched Split, which left us all a little terrified and very much in awe of James McAvoy's skill as an actor.
Hannah and Hakan in the Rain
Thursday was where the real fun began, as we took Avey out of school a little early so that we could all check out the Garfield Park Conservatory. That was one of the biggest highlights of the week because, in addition to all of the nifty plants and the large pond the kids tested out, they had a dozen or so baby goats frolicking on the grounds. We spent a lot of our time there, feeding the adults (the young ones were a little too shy) leaves and grass through the fence. It was so much fun to watch them; Merritt seemed to think they were dogs, as he kept making his little barking noise while he tried to soak it all in.
He Did Not Want A Picture
Of course, Friday was Hakan's birthday! We got the boys all ready after Avey was gone for school, and headed off to the forest preserve we had most recently enjoyed. Hakan had been so heartbroken when we had to leave that time, and my sister wanted to check one out, so we thought it would be a great activity to go. Carver was very hesitant to go, and understandably after he cut his toe the last time. We made sure everybody had close-toed shoes this time, and everyone had a blast - we even saw a turtle out there in the wild!

After Hakan's nap and Avey's return from school, everyone but Kira and Merritt (napping) left for Hakan's favorite restaurant (McDonald's) for his birthday meal. We returned home to cake and gift opening. He loved everything.

Later in the evening there began a downpour of rain, so most of us went out to play in it. That was probably Hakan's favorite part of the day - splashing in big puddles, getting as wet as he wanted, all hand-in-hand with his Auntie.

Saturday we made a quick trip to the pet store. Avey really wanted to hold a snake, so we all took turns passing one around, and the worker told us all about what nice pets ball pythons are for kids (thanks a lot). Avey can't wait until Merritt is old enough that Kira will let her have a python, and she's excited to take care of a fish to prove that she is responsible enough. We'll open that chapter in another month or so.

My sister left that afternoon to everyone's dismay. We enjoyed having her around as a calming presence, an extra pair of hands, and as a fresh set of eyes for how cute our kids can be. Hakan no doubt misses the extra one-on-one time, but we're sure to see her again before too long.

This next week we're back to normal life, for better or worse.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

On Shoes and Shoos

We are all tentatively over our colds from weeks ago, though it seems that a few of us have some seasonal allergies that are keeping noses runny and such. Even though we can't complain, you can rest assured that most of us will. 

It felt like a trying week. We shuffled Tuesday around so that Kira and I could go to an appointment together, checking out a doctor nearby. It turned out to be a disappointment, but seemed to throw off the next couple of days too. Merritt has been getting up once each night in the middle of the night, so Kira and I are both even more tired than usual. I shouldn't complain, because I do not have the means to feed him at night (he still refuses a bottle), but I have some weird issue with getting back to sleep sometimes after interruption. We hope there are teeth or some other temporary thing to blame... 
I went into campus for probably the last time for the next few months. The psychology department is moving to another building, so I packed up my office before and after a meeting with a student. I'm a bit bummed because I had just moved offices a year ago, and very much liked this one. I don't know what I'll end up with in the new place, but I have a feeling it will be little more than a broom closet.
As if matching the mood in the home, the weather turned rainy and violently windy for a few days this week. That restricted the activity areas for the kids so that their most attractive game was often seeing who could drive Kira to madness more efficiently (it was a 3-way tie). I have been working from home in my basement "office" most days, so at least I'm nearby in case the screams get too out-of-hand.

I'm in a pretty good place before my online course starts in another week. I'm trying to take this whole next week off so that we can focus on enjoying my sister's company.

In preparation for her auntie's arrival, Avey cleaned her room. To our amazement and astonishment, she also cleared the fire hazard off of her desk; it's been buried under all manner of half-finished art projects, art supplies, knickknacks, and dead rodents (so I assume) for most of the time we've lived in this house. I suspect it has less to do with her appreciation of orderliness and more to do with now being able to use the desk as a home for her computer so that she can hole up in there and avoid her little brothers. Either way, we are just happy it's clean!
As children are wont to do, ours keep growing. It came to a head when we could not find any suitable summer footwear for Merritt, and Hakan's usual gear became uncomfortably tight. We were faced with the tough decision to either sand down their feet to a more workable size, or purchase shoes that would accommodate their growth. After some lengthy debate, I relented and we chose the latter option.

Avey also needed some shoes for various settings, so we took the whole family to the shoe store. One might think that we had learned what a bad idea that is by now, but one would be mistaken. We split up the fittings, but needed at least 4 other adults to keep occupied the kids not immediately trying on shoes. The boys were all tired, so naturally resorted to pushing each others' buttons just short of the point where felony charges could be filed. Suffice it to say that we eventually departed the store both with shoes and what little of our dignity remained.

My sister arrives tomorrow, so we are all scrambling around trying to make the house look like a place capable of sustaining human life. We're so excited to have her here!