Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Report

It was another successful Christmas celebration! It was a lot more fun this year with Avey more able to understand and be excited about it all. Surprisingly, in contrast with her birthday frenzy, she was much more calm in unwrapping Christmas gifts. She very slowly and methodically tore tiny strip of paper after tiny strip of paper until coming to the gift. She's been a little overwhelmed with all of her new surprises.
You may have noticed her bumps and scratches on her forehead and lip. She pulled a dresser on top of herself a few days ago just before going to bed. It was the biggest accident she's ever had. Kira got her cleaned up and calmed down while I screwed the dresser to the wall so that it would never fall again. It was wonderful that, after about 10 minutes of sobbing and cuddling, she perked right back up and started running around and playing. What a sport!
She has most enjoyed a sing-along DVD that Kira thought of getting her. It has the most annoying narrator I could ever imagine, but Avey loves the scenes of Disney movies and cheesy songs. She must have watched Cinderella's "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" two dozen times in the past couple of days.
I think her very favorite gift of the season (and ours) was having her uncles and aunt in town. She loves having people around who aren't afraid to play:
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We hope you had a wonderful holiday too, and be sure to spend the last few days of the year wisely and memorably!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Relief

I cannot describe how good I've felt the past few days. Finals were all done and turned in Thursday morning, allowing me to sit back and spend the rest of the day working on the research project that pays the bills. Once I get some of that out of the way I get to really chill out by writing the rest of my personal statements for other graduate schools! Yeah, vacations are the best, aren't they?

Seriously though, it has been great to have classes out of the way. I've still got a lot to do, but more time in which to do it. We've also got more family in town for the holidays and will be taking a road trip to see more soon.

Avey's loved having more fans around too. Interestingly, she doesn't call any one of them "human":
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I'll win her respect yet...

Everyone have a very merry Christmas, and make good use of the last few days of 2009!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Retrogression

Last week I explained Avey's discovery and consequential exercise of my decline down the pecking order around the home; I had been demoted from "Daddy" to "Eli". So for most of the week, Avey and I were on a first-name basis. However, another interesting development (or perhaps a more appropriate word would be "recession") has arisen in the past few days.

Avey watched and fell in love with Disney's Beauty and the Beast. I will call your attention to the scene near the end where Beast transforms into a human. We tried to explain this phenomenon to our toddler by categorizing humans. "Mommy and Daddy and Avey are all humans," we elucidated. She liked that explanation, and so for the remainder of the night desisted calling me by my first name, and instead commenced referring to me simply as "human". I put her down for bed and heard her over the monitor saying things like, "Human, I want some water," and other such gems.

At this rate, I'll be known only as "Hey you" next week. I hesitate to predict what she'll call me when she's a teenager...

And now, by (we assumed) popular demand, here is our superstar with her own arrangement of another classic. Click here for the original, "Candle on the Water" from Pete's Dragon.
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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Demoted

When I was a kid, I called all the adults I knew by their last name, preceded by the appropriate "Mr." or "Mrs.", or whatever else. I did this because it just seemed strange to me to use adults' first names. I recognized that there was a difference in authority and respect when calling someone by their title. It was interesting, though, around my 19th birthday. Around then, it began feeling strange to address adults using their titles. I felt as if I were transitioning into an environment of peers. I was no longer an older child, but a young adult.

It was the same in college. As an undergraduate, it felt awkward to address my professors as anything but "Dr." or "Professor". As a graduate student, however, it feels much more natural to use first names with my professors. I have advanced from a mere student to more of a colleague, perhaps.

In any case, it hit Avey out of nowhere on Friday that she and I are now at the same level, apparently:
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That's just a brief sample I was able to catch of about 45 minutes of talking about whatever she could and throwing in "Eli" at the end of the sentence. I heard my name probably 200 times in those few minutes.

On the one hand, I thought it was really cute, and a great thing to learn. On the other hand, I couldn't help but wonder what had happened; did she just rise up several levels of social status, or did I fall?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thankful

It was a much-needed long weekend, with my whole family in town. I was very happy to have my siblings here, and Avey giggled so much around the boys that we had a very difficult time bringing her down from the high to take naps (she actually didn't nap at all a couple of the days - not for lack of trying).

We all stuffed ourselves silly too. I wish I were talking only about Thanksgiving day, but that statement pretty much sums up the whole weekend [nervous laugh]. Changing the subject, here's a video of Avey:
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We've got a lot to be thankful for this year; we're both employed, we're all healthy, we have relatively small debt, we've always had enough to eat, and we've got wonderful friends and family all around!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

November Blues

It's getting to be that time again; the semester is winding down, but final projects are looming. Christmas is on its way, but the pressure's on to come up with good gift ideas. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, but I'll have to force myself not to do homework and not feel guilty at the same time. I'm nearing the end of my graduate program, but I've still got a lot of ground to cover on my thesis. Avey wants to practice her running, but it's been icy and cold outside. It was my job to do Avey's hair yesterday, but I just couldn't get it to lay down:
Well, I suppose what keeps us trudging on through is that there is indeed progress. I'll get those projects done, gift ideas will manifest themselves, family will keep my mind off of homework, I've got great advisers for my thesis, ice eventually melts (in Colorado anyway), and Avey's hair will eventually dry:
In the meantime, we just keep thinking Pie! Pie! Pie!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New Tricks

One of Avey's favorite story books before bedtime lately is actually a beginning piano book of traditional nursery rhymes. So we just sing the songs to her. She's been picking up on them really fast too, as she demonstrates here:
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While Avey has had a productive week, Kira and I were both so busy that I have a hard time recalling what we did. I have vague recollections of lots of homework, probably some classes in there somewhere... I wonder how Avey stays so chilled out with two high-strung adults around her all the time...

We've got big plans coming up, though. My entire family will be in town for Thanksgiving, and I'm very much looking forward to an entire month out of school for Christmas break!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

...And Wiser Too?

I know. Look at all those candles. It makes me sick to my stomach. Or maybe that's just due to the fact that I ate half of that cake before their wicks had cooled. Twenty eight years...

Luckily, I have a lot of support around to help me through this tragic time. Kira and Avey visited me on campus this week:
I got some great gifts, of both material and service. I got a gift certificate to a professional hair stylist, so that I could learn some fancier ways to cover up my receding hair line and try to look as stylish as all the youngsters on campus, like this freshman:
Ha! Just kidding - this is actually Avey wearing a wig. I know, it's hard to tell, but take a closer look. I don't have any pictures of my haircut yet that I am willing to post to the world, but perhaps in time... looking at all those candles, I don't have much left.

Seriously though, it was a good birthday. I have a beautiful, caring wife and a clingy munchkin who adores me. Who could ask for anything more?

Among the celebrations, we went to the best German restaurant in town, and then saw A Christmas Carol in 3D. Don't take kids to that one - the ghosts are actually very scary!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Spooky Week

The week started out pretty typical (meaning busy beyond belief), and then Wednesday night we were hit with the first big snow storm of the season. This was met with mixed reactions. On the positive side, my morning class on Thursday was cancelled, giving me a few extra hours to study for the GRE on Friday (I finally decided to retake it, again). I stupidly braved the roads, but got to campus in one piece. Around noon, I discovered through email that my afternoon class was also cancelled, meaning I had the rest of the day to continue my much needed study!

It turned out being a real blessing because Friday the test came and went, and I came out with much higher scores than the first two times!

Saturday was a blast for Avey again - she got to dress up and go to another party! Here she is in a hybrid of her own and Daddy's costumes:
She will greatly miss the Halloween holiday. She has all these new toys to enjoy! She has been all about the plastic jack-o-lantern buckets, the green kitchen towel with a witch on it, and this annoying little cackling witch doll:
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Me? I'm counting down the days to pie. Er, um, Thanksgiving. That's what it's called.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Trick or Treat

Last night we attended the ward Trunk or Treat. Avey had a fun time going as Little Bo Peep, though to be certain she did not lose her sheep, she dragged it along beside her wherever she went.

It must be an odd experience to have one's first Halloween party as a two-year-old. I mean, this is her third Halloween, but probably the first one where she realizes that things are out of the ordinary. She gets to go out at night in a super-cool dress, take along her sheepy, hold a bucket and go get a bunch of candy from strange people while her own parents are giving away other candy. And her own parents are dressed very oddly too (well, Dad's not that different):Luckily Avey, being the girl she is, loves to play dress-up. For that reason alone, I think Halloween might be her favorite holiday (she wore her costume for hours before it was time for the party).
If nothing else, I think she's realizing that adults are just as much little kids as she is.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Costs & Benefits

There is a substantial financial cost to parenthood. Diapers, food, toys, clothes, books, videos, a crib, a changing table, and many other things have a clear dollar value (not that I'm keeping track to bill her when she's 18 or anything - we'll just move in with her when we're too old to take care of ourselves). Then there are the time and energy costs: the actual pregnancy would cost too much to put a monetary value on - at least that's the general message I got from Kira; the birth itself and the pain recovering from the c-section are worth a pretty penny; the sleep deficits are huge; the manual labor of feeding, changing, bathing, and cleaning up after her could employ a small team. Then there's the opportunity cost of one of us always being home with her. That's a lot to consider.

Of course, then there's the opportunity cost of not having her. Think of the countless hours of priceless entertainment we'd miss:

She thought her green shorts would fit on her head. She was right!
Then she thought her blue shorts would fit over her pants. She was right!
And here she is working out to an exercise video:
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Yeah. I guess, all things considered, we're getting a great deal!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Murphy's Law

Friday night, Kira and I had a rare chance to attend a rock concert by one of my favorite bands, Marcy Playground. They were actually the first rock band I had ever seen in concert about 11 years ago, so it was great to see them again. The problem is that the concert was two hours away, and when we got there the concert started about an hour late, and there was an opening band, so we didn't get to see MP until about 11pm. Then there was a pretty good snow covering the highway, so long story short, we didn't get home until about 4am. My generous mother babysat for us, and Avey was good enough to sleep in a little longer than usual so we could get in about 3 hours of sleep. Of course, then came the part where Avey taught us a valuable lesson; she is in charge. She opted not to take a nap the whole day, meaning that Mommy and Daddy had to nap in shifts.
We're almost recovered now, after a good 8-9 hours of consecutive sleep, but what a rough day. It's a good thing the concert was so good!
Here's a brief video of Avey from yesterday. She emptied this drawer a little at a time and, after telling me I was welcome, she would remind me that she is "very so polite."
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Life is busy otherwise. I'm sure you can all relate to that!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Leaps & Bounds

I am freaking out right now. You will all recall from last week's post that Avey is now officially two years old. I knew that was coming; we expected it since the day she was born. What we did not expect, however, was the exponential rate at which she would grow and learn after that day. I'm not kidding - the day after her official birthday I took her to the park and it was like I was with another kid! Every word out of her mouth was part of a full sentence, she used words I never thought she knew, and she learned how to climb up and sit down on a slide with which she had always needed help before! Then, Kira called me on my cell phone and I handed it to Avey and told her, "Say, 'Hi Mommy!'." Normally, Avey will greet a person on the phone, and then just sit and listen without responding much. In this particular instance, she said, "Hi Mommy! I'm going down the slide!" and continued to carry on a little conversation. She also seems to have grown another 6 inches or so, because she can reach all sorts of things she couldn't before. Like I said, I'm freaking out.

Here's some footage of her saying her new favorite word: humidifier.
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Yes, she has also learned her left from her right. I think I was 12 when I finally got that one down. Now I'm scared that when she turns 3, she'll get a full-time job and put Kira and me in a home. Hmmm... that actually sounds kind of nice at this point...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Too Two to Quit!

As you will remember from last week's post, Avey turns two this week. We celebrated yesterday with lots of family and friends and Avey had a blast! Here is an abbreviated version of the party (Warning! This video contains LEVEL 5 giggling):
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We were overwhelmed with generous gifts from near and afar. Although it may look like she enjoyed the tissue paper far more than the contents of the gift bags, she has been playing with her new things every minute that she's not eating or sleeping. And once again she has proof that she is the center of the universe (but she's sort of supposed to at this age)!
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Thanks to everyone who came and everyone who reads the blog to keep up on her and all of us! She truly feels loved day in and day out, and that is the best gift of all!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bipolar, or Just Two Years Old?

We've all heard the phrase "terrible twos", referring to toddlers at age two and their moodiness. Now, call me naive, but I never figured that our sweet little girl would ever have a drop of crankiness in her. However, as we approach her second birthday, Avey is making it pretty clear that she is perfectly capable of mood swings.

The other day, for example, she woke up from a two-and-one-half-hour nap. I thought for sure she would feel on top of the world after that kind of rest (I know I would). She was talking pleasantly to her Raggedy Andy doll in her crib when I came in to get her out. She casually mentioned to me that she would like her toy. With such a vague request, I responded, "Sure, you can have your toy," and set her on the floor expecting her to locate the toy to which she referred.

To my surprise, she transformed before my eyes into the embodiment of a tantrum! It was the end of the world! How could I, her own father, not know exactly which toy she wanted? Such abusive insensitivity had never before been heard of in the history of parenthood!

I tried to calm her down enough to get some more information on what she wanted. After several minutes I must have asked the key question because she calmed down enough to take a breath. "Do you want your toy?" She responded in her most pitiful voice, "Okay." I hesitantly picked her up, much like one might handle a landmine. She didn't explode until I asked her to tell me which toy she wanted. The eruption was enormous! I've never been shredded to pieces by shrapnel, but I can now imagine what it must be like.

After a few more attempts to put out the grease fire in my hands, I must have inadvertently thrown water on it because she was kicking and screaming so much I had to set her down. That was the wrong thing to do.

Finally, through sobbing and tears that would make a professional mourner blush, I caught the word "fridge". I realized she must want the teething ring we keep in the refrigerator. Sure enough, when I handed it to her, all was again right with the world.

I wish I had gotten the whole thing on video, but instead, here's another of Avey's musical moments: Click here for the original, full-length song.
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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Role Models

Parents often worry about the kinds of people their children will look up to. We tend to think and behave like the people we admire, and so there's a lot of concern about whom Avey might end up idolizing.

We recently discovered the kind of individuals Avey has really begun to imitate and we're not sure what to think. Click here for the original.

Now here is Avey's rendition:
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On the one hand, he's fairly musically inclined, but on the other hand, he's a cartoon rat with binge eating disorder. What is a parent to do?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Careers

It's interesting how people tend to be defined in a large way by their choice of career. When meeting somebody for the first time, for example, one of the first question is usually, "What do you do for a living?" And then whatever answer is given usually is followed by a whole lot of assumptions about income level, education & intelligence, personality type, etc. We all have stereotypes about what kind of person a plumber is vs. a pro golfer, vs. a mechanic, and so on.

Kira and I often get interesting reactions when people find out that she's a therapist and I'm studying to become a psychologist. Some people start spilling their guts to us, beginning with their childhood. Some people start asking us what's wrong with their cousin or brother-in-law. And then some people end the conversation abruptly and walk away.

I think a lot of people worry about Avey because of our chosen professions. This image comes to mind of the three of us around the dinner table, analyzing Avey's most recent crayon-on-paper drawing for signs of neuroses. The funny thing is, I think it's probably the other way around; I think Avey does a lot more psychological analyses of us, and I'm worried what she's concluding.
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So when I try to imagine what Avey will be when she grows up, I sometimes worry that she is doomed to be one of us. Not that it's a bad field, I've just seen what it does to people. And it's not so much that she would follow in our footsteps, but that she would naturally seek out answers to why her parents acted this way.

I can imagine her following a lot of other career paths though. Some I can see so far are:
  • Singer (for obvious reasons)
  • Dancer (for obvious reasons)
  • Veterinarian (because she loves all things living)
  • Stand-up comedian (we could probably sell tickets now)
  • Cartoon voice (for obvious reasons)
  • Musician
  • Lawyer (she can convince anyone of anything)
  • Politician (she talks a lot without saying much)
  • Acrobat (she loves to spin and tumble)
  • Park ranger (loves the outdoors)
  • Dietitian (she knows how to refuse food)
  • Kindergarten teacher (she's just got that vibe)
  • Actor (drama queen!)
Oh, the possibilities!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Replacement

It's been kind of a rough few weeks. With the end of summer comes not only school, but also people coming and going to school. This year, it seems like we mostly had people going. My sister went off to college and all of Kira's siblings are now living out-of-state. Because of this gaping hole left in our lives by their departure, we found small ways to replace them. Introducing Jeffery:
Jeffery (named thusly by Avey) is a male betta fish left over from Kira's sister's wedding reception. He was part of the centerpiece. After it was all cleaned up, Jeffery was looking for a permanent home, and we decided to take him on.
After a few days, I realized that he was probably rather lonely, having no one to talk to or fight with. After reading up on bettas, I learned that they are usually compatible with African dwarf frogs. Thus, we aquired (again, named by Avey) Ursula:
As far as filling that void, these two are falling a little short. We still miss our siblings, but taking care of these little guys is pretty fun too. Avey especially loves feeding them every morning. She loves animals of all shapes and sizes, and we're not really house pet people, so a fish and a frog work out for everybody pretty well.
I apologize for not having new video to post this week. We've been out of tape for our camcorder for a while now. I also haven't taken any blog-worthy photos for a while. I promise that Avey is not being replaced by the fish and frog (although I almost started feeding them her lunch the other day). I'll get some footage of her soon.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Success!

Well, even though nobody reminded me not to go water skiing again, I was able to avoid it on Friday. It was mostly accidental, actually. I kind of did want to go, but had already scheduled an important meeting that morning that I really needed to attend. It sounds like Kira and Avey had a wonderful time, though! Avey didn't ski very much, but really enjoyed the water.We both have had some siblings in town, so have been trying to spend a lot of time with them. Yesterday we went mini-golfing and Kira and I both got 3 holes-in-one! It was basically the highlight of the week for us. Avey had fun riding all the fake animals that make some of the obstacles on the course, and splashing in the water that causes a 1-stroke penalty. She didn't seem to understand why we don't just pick up the colorful balls, walk them over to the hole, and plop it in instead of knocking them around with sticks. She tried to show us her idea several times (that's my little pragmatist), but it just didn't catch on. She almost showed a few other golfers her idea, but we were able to catch her in time. I'm starting to think that maybe she won't be the next female and white Tiger Woods. Plan B is racquetball, and she is doing pretty well with that; she chucks the ball across the kitchen sometimes. Just enjoying watching it bounce is half the requirement to be a great racquetball player, so I have high hopes for her in that sport.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Got Aveys?

What a crazy week! I started my practicum on Monday, which was stressful enough, but in addition to that, Kira's sister got married this week too! Admittedly, I probably wasn't as stressed as the bride, but believe me, I know how to freak out.

I'm not sure how much I can say about my practicum, so I'll just leave it at this; I met a few murderers. Talk about eye-opening experience!

Avey was all about Avey at several points this week. For example, I think this was a dream-come-true for her when she found that there were 3 more of her for people to admire:
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At this point, you may want to revisit an old post. Yes, it's still alive and well.

I think the wedding and reception were just feeding Avey's ego because she probably thought everyone there had come just to compliment her. At the reception, every time somebody said, "Well aren't you pretty?" She would very plainly respond, "Yeth" with her subtle, but ever present lisp. I don't know what I'm more afraid of: that she's cute, or that she knows it.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Abyss of Time

Well, the summer was nice while it lasted. I start my practicum tomorrow, and classes start two weeks after that. It sounds like it's going to be a very busy semester. Now I look back and wonder where the whole summer went.
Avey just insists on continuing to grow, too. For the last couple of weeks she's started repeating just about everything we say or she hears. Yesterday she chose a line out of a movie she watched and repeated it the rest of the day; "I'm not crazy!" After hearing it 50 times in a row, we started to wonder if we should believe her.
She's also slowly becoming a two-year-old. I did not include a video this week because the only new footage I got was of her massive tantrum the other morning. She woke up MAD, and proceeded to whine and scream and cry for another 45 minutes or so, and nothing could console her. I figured nobody wanted to see that, and I'm trying really hard to maintain the perception that Avey is perfect. We all know I believe it, but I've got to make sure everyone else believes it too. A video to the contrary would only weaken my agenda.
Seriously, though, she's usually great. We wonder if her moodiness is increasing because she's getting older, still teething, or because she's super jealous of my sister (they're sort of competing for my sister's boyfriend's affection).
Of course, Avey keeps up on her own history pretty well (by watching home videos of herself), so she may realize that she's getting older. I bet she's having an early-life crisis: feeling the pressure of solving all the world's problems before age 5, accomplishing something with her life, etc., so we are trying to reassure her that it's not up to her to save the world.
At least until she's 10 or so.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Brian Head

We spent most of last week at a family reunion in Brian Head, Utah. The trip over was long, but fairly uneventful as Avey spent most of the time playing, singing, etc. She even calmly dozed off for a good nap!

Avey quickly became excited with a completely new place to explore. She soon discovered her new best friend in the world: a shoe scraper that is made to look like a hedgehog:
At least 4 times a day, we would pay the little guy a visit and the ceremony of petting him and touching his nose would commence.

She also enjoyed a chair lift ride up the mountain. It was a beautiful view:
We all enjoyed visiting with cousins and Avey enjoyed meeting more people her age.
We also enjoyed archery, ATVing, a little bit of sleep, and the beautiful weather.

As promised, here is Avey practicing some of her emotions:

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I hope I'll have more time for next week's post. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Best Friends

Avey discovered two of the greatest toys ever this week. She's been riding her popper toy lately like a horse, so it was no surprise to me when we were at a thrift store and she picked up a stick horse and wouldn't let go of it. Needless to say, I broke down and forked over the couple of bucks. He's been a noble steed so far:
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I'm not real sure about the binky. She has it in her toy drawer and sometimes chews on it for fun. It's not a soothing thing anymore, but seems to relieve some of the teething discomfort lately. She's on her last two teeth for a full set!

Speaking of teething, she was having a hard time the other day, so we gave her some toys made for chewing. I pulled this little quintopus (it has only 5 tentacles) out of the freezer and she fell in love! She thought it was the cutest thing that had ever been made. She wouldn't let go of it the rest of the meal and has since gone to sleep most nights with it clenched in her little fist. The little companions share everything now:
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Just imagine how she'll spoil her human friends someday!

An old friend of ours from high school was in town with his wife and kids yesterday and Avey was shy at first, but then started randomly giving the kids hugs whenever they got close. We think maybe she's ready to make friends with more kids. We just hope she'll be so loving with a new sibling when the time comes.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Simplicity

I am constantly impressed with how much enjoyment Avey gets out of the simple things in life. For example, earlier this week she and I went to the grocery store and she admired all the shiny balloons in the floral department. She does this very frequently upon our visits to stores, so I thought we could look into the price of a single balloon. The friendly woman said that balloons with the King Soopers logo on them were free! Naturally we took up this offer, and Avey proceeded to talk about the balloon and nothing but the balloon for the next two or three hours. Here she is much later in the day, so she's cooled off a little:
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It was basically the coolest thing ever.
You'll all remember that Avey loves doggies. Now that you've learned of her love of balloons as well, it should come as no surprise to you that she has been obsessed with a video of a doggy popping balloons for a few days now. It has the two best things on the whole planet, interacting in one video! You can watch it here.
She has also recently become excited about emotions. She constantly talks about a boy she knows who missed his parents. So we've been working on understanding what these strange feelings are. Here she is working on being sad:
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Her favorite so far is "scared". We're also working on excited, happy, mad, and proud, among others. Videos are forthcoming.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hangover

I made a huge mistake yesterday. Let me tell you the story...
It all started about 28 years ago when my wife was born. Then a bunch of stuff happened. To celebrate that event this year, she wanted to go water skiing; a family pastime on her side, and something I had never done until we were married.
I must not remember the first time I went very well because I went again yesterday. Oh, don't get me wrong, it was fun and all while I was there, enjoying the fresh air over the lake, the cool-but-not-too-cool water, the blue sky, the ducks strolling along the surface... I felt like a little kid on a boat, or something.
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I'm not sure what happened next exactly. I was sitting in the boat, pondering the meaning of life, the wonders of the Earth, the origin of corned beef, etc., and the next thing I knew, I was being fitted with some sort of padded, sleeveless shirt. They called it a "life jacket": probably because it was the only thing that kept me alive during my descent into the abyss (meaning the water).
I actually thought I was doing pretty well for a few seconds; I was up, gliding along the surface of the water with the wind in my unshaven face and thinning hair, glorying in man's dominion over gravity, and eternal contempt for the fish who were trying to watch Saturday morning cartoons below (I'm pretty sure I saw Spongebob near the dock).
It was at this moment that the forces of the universe decided it was high time that Eli Ricks had some humbling.
It all happened so fast. One moment I was king of the lake, the next I was skidding and bouncing on top of it, swallowing liter after liter of its mass. I had no idea that water in its liquid form could be just as hard as concrete when you scrape along top of it at 30 mph.
Now I know.
In my infinite naivety, I tried again after getting reoriented to time and place and regaining feeling in my limbs. Outcome: worse than or equal to previous attempt.
I tried a few more times with the encouragement of my wife and father-in-law (both veterans of the lake and its adventures), and improved my time-before-suffering with each attempt, but it seems that with every increasingly painful landing, the lake was trying to get a message through to me.
Ever since struggling to lift my banged up body into the boat for the last time, I have felt like somebody took a meat tenderizer to the contents of my head, and replaced every muscle in my body with steel wool - and not the nice steel wool fresh out of the package, but that nasty steel wool that you end up with after scrubbing your oven for 6 hours, trying every chemical you've got in the house. In a word, ouch!
I've got until August to plan out my strategy for next time. So far, this is what I've got; everybody reading this blog, please remind me not to ever go near water again!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Debut

As usual, Avey becomes more cultured with each passing week. Recently, she favored us with her rendition of one of the more famous vocal pieces from the 20th Century: I am pleased to herewith present you with the fruit of her labors:
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She has not yet agreed to sign any autographs (she claims that it is because she doesn't know how to spell or write yet), so please hold off any requests. For now, her mother and I are contracted with her, so stay tuned to this blog for all original material.

We had a delightful 4th of July. We went on a little horse-drawn carriage tour of Old Colorado City, and enjoyed a nice barbecue with Kira's family.
Happy Birthday USA!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Politics

I have avoided addressing politics on this blog in the past; I don't really think this is the place for those kinds of discussions. But I do try to encourage Avey to be an active citizen, and she recently expressed her stance to us:
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You should have seen her during the special on health care the other day - she kept throwing things at the TV. There are a couple of things she and I just don't agree on, though. I believe in small government, and Avey thinks that the ones in power should clothe, feed, and bathe those whom they govern. She's actually on the radical side, insisting that the ruling body even change the citizens' diapers and do their hair really cute every morning.

Well, I guess that's what is greatest about the U.S.A. - everybody is free to express their ideas.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Reflections on Fatherhood

Avey will soon be 21 months old, meaning that I've been a father for close to two years. As I look back over this time, a lot of thoughts start swimming in my head. I suppose I could sum them up as follows:

"Brain feel squishy now. Need go ni- nights. No sleepin' long time."

Seriously though, Avey's great. She may have her stubborn moments...
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But mostly all I can remember are the beautiful moments...
I honestly can't think of anything I could be doing that could be more fulfilling, fun, stressful, and meaningful. I am so happy and thankful to be part of this little wonderful experience that we call the Ricks Family!

Sundays are, in many ways, the busiest day of the week, so we celebrated yesterday. Kira gave me the day off to do anything I'd like, so I slept in for a bit, woke up to a delicious waffle breakfast, and then did a few things with my old chum from high school who's in town for a few days. We then spent the evening as chaperons at a Youth dance. It was a very pleasant day, and so nice to be spoiled.

Kira surprised me with a quick detailing of both cars (badly needed) and bought us a toaster oven, which I have wanted for a very long time. We use it all the time now!

Avey has made it a memorable day too; she forgot to be thankful for me in her morning prayer (but remembered my sister's boyfriend?), but made a really stinky poop for me to clean up. To make up for it, she let me rock her to sleep on and off for about 45 minutes though, and then ended up not taking a nap after all. I tell you; she'd be bored to death if she didn't have my brain to mess with!

These will be great times to look back on. But with every month that goes by, I find myself feeling like it's gone by far too fast. What a wonderful journey, though. I wouldn't trade it for anything!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Manners

One of the bigger pressures of parenthood is teaching the wee ones proper manners. That's really a tough one when we adults have fallen out of practice. Have you ever paid attention to all the missing "please"s and "thank you"s in our everyday conversations? Having a little one learn to talk sure helps one notice, I think.

We're lucky in that Avey is always willing to pick up a new word or two, so we can purposefully place words in her vocabulary. Of course, the disadvantage of that is anytime we drop a word or two we don't want her to say, she picks it up too. She is quickly tempering us into pretty decent parents. One of her newest and favorite phrases is her version of "You're welcome!" As you can see here:
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It's my goal to get her to say "Father dearest, I would be forever indebted to you should you cut my asparagus for me," before she's two. Some might say I have a whole lot of faith in my little girl. Well, yeah...