Sunday, August 20, 2017

Return of the Mommy: Merritt's Revenge

We left our hero last week in the clutches of four greasy-fingered, nap-denying, defiant couch tater tots, facing certain doom without their usual custodian. Thankfully, Kira came home to save us all from self-destruction, just in the nick of time. 

...But not before we had tons of fun. I filled up our days with outings and treats, figuring that they couldn't eat each other alive if they were distracted by a shiny object or two. It worked pretty well, although I would not want to be a full-time single parent of my little cage-fighters. 
Merritt has been teething nonstop for several days. He took forever to sprout that upper incisor, but now seems to have gotten the hang of the process; he's decided to add a second tooth on the top, and a third bottom tooth, with signs of another on the way. Naturally, he's had disturbed sleep during the process, so I had disturbed sleep in Kira's absence. Now that she's home, we get to share the sleep disturbance. 
Kira made it home Wednesday evening, and little underwhelmed with her welcome committee of two sleeping boys and Merritt's nonstop screaming (never figured why, but probably because he was tired and in his car seat for the long trip to and from the airport). It was a bit of a transition for her back into the routine of diapers, resisting meals, fighting naps, and little arguments over nothing...and on top of that, she had to deal with the kids (har har!).
This coming week marks the last few days before school starts. Carver begins Kimdergarten, and Avey charges into 4th Grade. They are both tentatively excited, although we were all saddened to learn that Avey's best friend will not be in Avey's same classroom this year. They will still see each other at recess, but it will still be sad to not share the same experiences.
I also have to start back at work next week, but I still have a faculty meeting in the city this week. I have 8 a.m. classes this semester two days a week, so with my hour commute, it is going to be awfully early for me. Luckily, those are also the only days I teach, so I may not have to head into the city the rest of the time.

That's about all that's noteworthy for us!

We are excited for the solar eclipse tomorrow!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Single Dadding

Kira left for her personal vacation yesterday, much to everyone's dismay (except hers). Hakan seems to keep forgetting that she's gone; he keeps saying things like, "When Mommy wakes up..." I have to remind him that she is in another state for just a few days, but that she'll be back. 
As the old saying goes, when the cat's away, the mice will try to fill the sorrowful void with various activities that are new and fun. Well, I'm paraphrasing. In any case, we went out to a petting zoo!
After a bit of a drive, we made it to a little farm, which is mostly a horse ranch. We got to feed and pet the goats, sheep, chickens, turkeys, llamas, ducks, and ponies, and we admired from a little distance the enormous pigs, who are not nearly as charming as Charlotte's Web would have us believe. 
Poor Merritt probably enjoyed it the least. I had hoped he would take a small nap on the way there, but he fought it so that when we arrived he was pretty on edge. He sat in the stroller, and when we went up to the ponies, one stuck its head close to Merritt, terrifying him beyond anything I've ever seen. I quickly picked him up out of the stroller to comfort him and show him that the horses (probably) wouldn't eat him, as his older brothers have much more meat on them. He spent the rest of the trip in my arms, smiling and chuckling occasionally, but a bit overwhelmed by it all. I suppose we need to work our way up from waving at Avey's betta fish to feeding llamas with our hands. He fell asleep on the ride home and then slumbered more when we got home.
Avey seemed particularly taken with the llamas, even naming them all. There's a small chance that she'll now want a llama instead or in addition to the python she covets. She didn't waste a moment once we got in the car, immediately asking if people keep llamas as pets. I couldn't help but think of the scene in Napoleon Dynamite.
It was a nice outing, so hopefully I can keep up with their expectations for the rest of the time Kira's gone. Wish me luck! 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Feels Like Summer

[Yes, that is also the title of a Weezer song]

We have slowly recovered from our wave of illness, and so we were feeling up to a beach excursion. As I mentioned last week, Kira has been hoping to go to the sand dunes in Indiana for some time. The dunes are right alongside the shore of Lake Michigan in Indiana, so we went prepared to get wet.
The spot we ended up at was not exactly what we pictured for the sand dunes, but the beach was better than we imagined. You may recall from our trip 2 years ago that the water was far too cold for comfort, and the shore was much too rocky. Ergo, we were expecting to spend most of our time in the sand. We were pleasantly surprised to find that, although there were much larger waves than our last experience, the water was perfectly pleasant, and the shore was sandy and smooth the whole way in.
Merritt was shy about the water, so spent most of his time tasting and tossing the sand. He was caked in it for most of the trip, but he had a smile on his face most of the time, too.

Avey practically lived in the water, having a grand time braving the large waves as they crashed into her. She took out a kick board and tried letting the waves push her back into the shore, which was a lot of fun also.

Carver had tons of fun in the water, too, though the waves were a little too big for him to brave alone. Avey and he held hands for some of the time, and he otherwise held steady on Kira or me. He also made good friends with a little boy, maybe 2 years old, who cracked up at all of Carver's slapstick moves.
Kira and I mostly just tried to keep an eye on the kids at all times, but we had a great time also. It's nice to finally do something that feels like a summer activity. 

Kira leaves for her sister's in Utah this weekend, so I'll be a single daddy for a few days. I don't know who's more terrified - the kids or I. Hakan has been painfully transitioning out of a nap for a couple of weeks now, making the whole house miserable from about 3 p.m. to bedtime. Thankfully, Merritt has been mostly back on track with his night sleep. All I hope for Kira's trip is that she has an awesome time, and that my nights aren't complete nightmares. We'll see if I can post on time next week...
Merritt is clearly understanding new words and phrases. When I say, "outside," he knows to get his shoes. When he's eating and I say, "get down," he reaches for the latch on his high chair tray. He can say a few words hit-and-miss. He'll nail down "no" sometimes, usually when he's mad, and he gets pretty close to "fishy" ["wishy"] when he sees Avey's betta. He ought to be telling all sorts of interesting stories very soon.

In the meantime, wish me luck...

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sick and Tired

Our home was struck with the plague this week, or so it felt. After Hakan's fever returned Sunday night, we took him in for a strep diagnosis. We should have known that the worst was yet to come. As an ominous omen of our impending illnesses, Avey's betta fish was found lifeless in his tank on Monday morning. He had seemed less active for a couple of days before, but there was no clear sign that he was ill otherwise. We were all saddened at the loss of our newest family member, and had some important conversations about the great responsibilities that come with pet ownership, as their lives are at stake. We made a game plan for what to adjust with the next one, trying keeping the tank a little warmer, and feeding less often. 
Gill's death set the tone for the rest of the week, as one by one the rest of the family came down with symptoms similar to Hakan's, just as he was getting better. Carver never did get a fever, but had a cough that would make a cigar smoker blush. I had a day or two with some mild aches and a little cough, but nothing unbearable. Avey was about the same as Carver, but with some of my aches also. Merritt even came down with a fever, and his nose has been running like Usain Bolt. Kira, who had been on an antibiotic for something unrelated anyway, took the longest to develop symptoms, but is now dealing with a sore throat, too. 

The worst of it all for Kira and me was that we were up every hour or so for one of the nights (between Hakan and Merritt, mostly), and the nights have only slowly become less eventful. Hakan is now done with his antibiotic regimen, but the rest of the kiddies are still catching up. Merritt awoke around 4 this morning and was in a strange state, wanting to sleep, but screaming like a banshee. Naturally, today is the day that Kira gave a talk in church, and also sang a descant in a special choir piece. Thankfully, she is the type to rise to the occasion when it's required, so she nailed them both (so we hear: everyone else stayed home). 
Trying on Carver's Shorts
We did have some fun moments amid all of the weeping and wailing. Avey got a new fish, Scales, on Thursday, and he is doing very well so far. Kira took the two older boys to see a fireworks display put on by our township, keeping them up way past their bedtime, but they enjoyed it despite coming home worn out. Carver passed out as soon as his head hit the pillow, and Hakan buzzed around for a while. It seems to be the way he manages his exhaustion.

Avey also attended a birthday party for her best friend on Monday, which included a pool. She would never have left if she could have chosen. She also got an early birthday present in the mail. We let her decide whether to open it or wait, and she took the path of no return. Her Nana sent a slightly used tablet that she never uses, because Avey's stopped working several months ago. She was thrilled to get this one, and even set up an account on it for Carver to use when she is not using it. I don't know how we're going to top that in September...
Playing in the Puddle
Avey also got invited by her best friend to see a movie when a schedule conflict left them with an extra ticket. We're not jealous, though.

Everyone's symptoms are getting under control now, so maybe things will calm down, or maybe they will explode as the kids make up for lost time...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Disappointment, Thy Name is Night Sleep

We were thrilled in vain this week when Merritt's first upper incisor broke through the gums. Kira and I collectively breathed a sigh of relief, thinking that perhaps teething pain was to blame for Merritt's fitful nighttime slumber. 

Alas, 'twas not so. In fact, he squirmed and screamed in bursts about every hour, forcing us to get up with him in shifts. Even sleeping between us in our bed, which usually tranquilizes him, was ineffective. 
I have wondered for some time whether he is just uncomfortable in his bed (a travel crib, for the sake of size), which seems very stiff to me. Our bed is much softer, which may be why he prefers it. In a completely unexperimental approach, I put together his crib and rearranged some furniture to make it fit. The mattress to his crib is much softer, so I thought perhaps lying thereupon would squelch some of his night discomfort. Last night was the first trial, and he did very well...until about 3 a.m., at which point he joined us.
Snakes on the Brain and Face
Kira has had high hopes of making a sip or two of lemonade out of our lemony summer, so she arranged for us to head to some sand dunes in Indiana yesterday. The Fates determined that such was not our destiny, for Hakan came down with a fever and sore throat the night before our excursion. As it was the same night that Merritt kept us up for most of the time, we resigned to staying home with some relief. Still, Kira took the older two kids to see the movie adaptation of one of Avey's favorite book series, Captain Underpants. They enjoyed it thoroughly, so the day was not a total loss. We plan to try the dunes next weekend, but don't tell any bacteria our plan.
Hakan is feeling much better today, although he still sounds like a chain-smoker. He should be back to his usual self in another day or so.
While I'm complaining, I should point out that the battery to my laptop died abruptly this week, making working at the library more challenging. I have to find a good spot and stick to it, because I can't move again without shutting off my computer. The new one is in the mail.

Today, while I was managing the two younger boys at home, prepping Merritt for a nap, I went to find his pacifier. Usually, when it is not in an obvious place, it can be found on the floor near his favorite playing spots. After about 30 minutes of searching and re-searching, its location still eluded me. I was on the verge of panic, as he is not likely to sleep without it, but he did eventually accept an older model we had stored away. We still do not know where his original is, so this is the mystery of the decade. Perhaps it has gone where all of the sock mates go.

Carver has an odd new habit lately. Kira or I will ask him a simple "yes or no" question, and rather than simply answering with a single word, like parsimony would suggest, he comes up with a set of signals with which to broadcast his decision. For example, yesterday I asked Carver whether I could interest him in some food. He looked at me for a moment, and then instructed me, "If the answer is yes, then I will make this signal [sweeping his arm up and to his left]. If the answer is no, then I will make this signal [sweeping his arm horizontally]." He then made the corresponding gesture, and I had to not only try to remember how it was interpreted, but also what my question was in the first place.

Needless to say, after a week such as this one, Kira is looking forward to her solo trip to Utah.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Betta Watch Out!

Ever since she could talk, Avey has been asking for a pet. Because Kira and I are not really the type to keep pets, we told Avey that she would have to prove that she is responsible enough to take care of it. We set up the deal that if she could keep a plant alive for 6 months, then she could try a fish, then a small mammal, and so on, working her way up to whatever.

She finally passed the first round this week, so she is now taking care of a betta fish, whom she named "Gill."
She's been doing very well so far, keeping up a regular feeding schedule, and learning how to change the water. She's also taught him a trick; she puts a little drop of water about half an inch above the water line, and then Gill watches it and jumps up to touch it, making the drop fall into the tank. She's also had a great time decorating Gill's little home. She may need to consider charging her brothers money to come view the fish - Merritt especially loves to see it, making the "fish" sign each time. 
A more depressing turn of events is Hakan's napping, or lack thereof. He seems to want to transition out of a midday nap, but his body is just not ready. As far as his body is concerned, it wants to wake up around 6 a.m., nap around 1 p.m. for 90 minutes or so, and then go to bed at 8:30 or 9 p.m. We just can't stand the thought of having him up that late, so we try to push his nap earlier, make it shorter, or sometimes he just wants to skip it altogether. So far, the result is that he has a hair trigger in the afternoons, and then bedtime looks like the high-security wing of a mental asylum. We're sure that the whole situation is exacerbated by our weening him from the pacifier, but we dare not revert to that vice. 

Yesterday, Kira thought she would try taking Hakan for a drive to see if he would fall asleep in the car seat. Carver wanted to go along, too. Of course, what happened was that Hakan stayed awake the whole time, and Carver fell asleep for a few minutes. When Hakan went to sleep first that night, and Carver got a few minutes to himself before his normal bed time, he thought it was a really special treat. He went to bed at 7 like always, but said, "Wow, I got to stay up really late because of my nap!" I declined to comment.
Merritt is as adorable as ever. He has taken to shouting with glee, "DAAADAAA!" whenever I come home from my spurts of work at the library. He continues to mimic sounds, and shows clearer understanding of language with each day. Last week, he brought me one of his shoes, and I told him to bring me his other shoe so I could put it on him. He looked around to find it, and sure enough, brought it right over. Before we know it, he'll be ignoring us entirely, just like his older siblings.

Kira had a call from another potential client this week, so we're hoping to have that work out. I am doing my best to get out far ahead of the work for the coming semester, and my summer course is almost running itself. Otherwise, we enjoy the weather when we can.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Happy Birthday, Mommy!

Today is the anniversary of Kira's birth! We spent yesterday doing our version of celebrating, which has toned down quite a bit since we were childless. Kira started by taking a trip to the Chicago Temple: one of the few places where she can get a few minutes of peace and quiet. When she got back in the afternoon, we all gathered around the television to watch Beauty and the Beast, which we all enjoyed. We had to pause it in the middle to make sure the kids all ate their dinner and got cake before bed, and then we finished it once they were all asleep. Today has been pretty typical, but she's attempting a very long nap, so that ought to be special. Maybe when the kids are a little older and we have a little more cash lying around, we can send her to a spa. Hopefully, she'll enjoy her upcoming break in August when she heads to Utah.
We also enjoyed celebrating our nation's independence this week! We were invited to a large gathering at some friends' house, so spent the day getting our food contribution ready, and wrestling with naps and meals like any other day. By the time it came, I opted to stay home and try to get Merritt for a nap, as I was pretty wiped out and am not much one for chit-chat. Merritt ended up declining a nap, but we had a good time in the back yard. 
Carver and Hakan have decided to be friends most days, which makes for a much more pleasant home. They still have their bouts of carnage, but mostly, they've made real efforts to be chums. 
Carver and Avey finished their swimming lessons on Friday, much to their relief and delight. They both made a lot of progress, impressing us both and hopefully themselves. I am especially glad that Carver made it all the way through. Avey seems to understand the point of hard work - it eventually pays off, and at least it feels nice to accomplish something you weren't sure you could do - but Carver's nature is not so adventurous. He crumbles pretty easily at some new experiences, like food, and when the going gets tough, he likes to lie down on the floor until it passes by. Something may have shifted in him with swimming, because after his meltdown last week, he worked at it a couple of days and then advanced to the next skill station. By the end of the lesson on Friday, he was probably ready to move on to another station yet. We sure hope that he felt the rewards of hard work, so that it will keep paying off.
That's about all of the news from our week. See you next time!