Sunday, January 29, 2012


Avey has known how to count to 10 for well over a year now. She's struggled with numbers 12 through 19 for so long, however, that we figured we should do something about it. Her sequence would usually follow something like this: "11, 12, 14, 16, 17, 13, 19, 20". So one day I scribbled up a quick chart demonstrating to her how our number system works - there's a ones place, a tens place, and so on. I showed her how the numbers cycle through beginning at 0 and going up to 9 before starting over. She was very impressed, and was determined to learn how to count to one hundred. I finished up the chart, going to 100, and Avey tried a few times, always struggling though the teens, but as soon as she hit 17 she was home free. Earlier this week, she was still working on counting to 100 using the chart, sometimes going through the whole chart 3 or 4 times in a row. I decided to make a more sophisticated chart, color-coding the digits and everything. She's been going through it religiously, several times daily. She's getting it down, usually confusing 60 with 90, but nearly always catching herself. Tonight at dinner she made a real breakthrough as she was going over the chart and realized, "Daddy! I can still count them without pointing at them!" Spectacular, isn't she?

I'm thrilled that she enjoys learning so much, and takes it upon herself to expand her horizons. She often requests to learn more about something when we're sitting and having a chat. She's asked about liquids and solids, vampires, temporary and permanent, and just the other day we had a long discussion about how the body is made up of cells. She seems excited to fill that little head of hers with whatever she can, and we hope we can keep helping her out with that. I'm sure she'll be a great little teacher for her little brother!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Name Calling

Alright world, we think that we are ready to announce our second child's name. We reserve the right to change this in the future, but it's been sticking pretty well for about a month now, and Avey is even on board, so we believe we have a winner. Our son will be henceforth known as

Carver Cope Ricks

Or, as many have already begun to affectionately call him, "CCR". Naturally, the middle and last names are family names, and the first name is what we have decided will describe him for the rest of his life. When I close my eyes and attempt to envision the boy in the near future, I imagine him searching high and low for some relatively sharp object with which he might sculpt some shape out of another. He and I will probably spend our evenings out on the porch, watching the sun set, whittling away at some twigs he found during his daily exploits, talking of life, puppies, bouncy balls, and the best ways to sneak a cookie without Kira knowing about it. 

It's also a distinct possibility that he will never once take a knife to a piece of wood, of course, so I've come up with a few other ways for him to earn his first name. He could theoretically carve the following:
  • Butter with a dull knife
  • Pumpkins on or near Halloween
  • Cheese, although he is more likely to "slice" such a thing. We considered naming him "Slicer" for this reason (a pretty cool name too), but that seemed destined to turn him into a serial killer. 
  • Features into a snowman
  • Certain precious metals out of rock - after all, his father is a UTEP Miner.
  • An empire into smaller, more manageable states
The list could go on and on, but we're fairly certain that one or more of these will be appropriate, thus justifying our name choice. In any case, we are excited to welcome him into the world and our family!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Letting Go

The day before we left for Christmas Break, we decided to take some sweets to our neighbors upstairs. There lives a girl a few years older than Avey. She, having no siblings of her own, has been very kind to Avey whenever they've interacted. Just a few minutes after we'd returned from their place, the mother knocked at our door and asked if Avey would like her daughter's old play kitchen she no longer uses. Avey has a small, plastic, pathetic excuse for a play kitchen that we had acquired in front of (I'm ashamed to say) the dumpster at an apartment a few years ago. The neighbor's kitchen is a much larger, more colorful, probably more sanitary work of art; just the right size for Avey, complete with a refrigerator, faucet, hanging racks for pot holders, and even a play cordless phone. Needless to say, Avey jumped at the opportunity to upgrade. Or so we thought...
Avey Requested a Special Hairdo
 After Avey had transferred all of her toy food and plastic dinnerware to the new kitchen, we began to talk of parting with her old kitchen. Right about then we could hear the Four Horsemen galloping closer, and the moon must have turned to blood, because it was undoubtedly the end of the world.
Apparently we had misjudged the situation. Avey had not considered replacing her old, eyesore-of-a-toy-kitchen that is even missing several pieces. She simply thought she would take part in the most pleasant of American pastimes: amassing extraneous stuff.

We, still shooting for those Parents-of-the-Century trophies, tried to conjure up a plan. How could we win Avey's acquiescence to ridding ourselves of the elbowroom vampire? We tried bribes with new toys, reason and logic, and even tried playing on her sympathies by explaining that it could be recycled and made into new toys for other boys and girls who have none. We were striking out left and right. We even considered for a moment hiding it until she forgot before we could disburden ourselves thereof. However, as Kira learned after giving away a doodle pad without Avey's express written consent and then experiencing her wrath, Avey forgets nothing (except occasionally to use the potty before it is too late).

We finally relented, and offered to store it at my grandmother's until I graduate and get a house where we can have enough room for every item she will ever own, have given to her, create, build, find laying in a ditch, or dig out of the mud.

We're taking extra caution to take out the trash only when she's sleeping lest she find some sentimental value in the eggshells from breakfast.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


We all know that Avey is fond of games. She especially loves role-playing games, where each player has a certain part to enact. Several months ago, she and I came up with a few random games that she still loves to experience again and again these days. We go through one of them about every week these days. I think these are worthy of posting for future reference when she's much older.

The first game is the Doctor Game:

  • Avey touches Daddy's nose, and it makes a beeping sound. 
  • Taken aback, Daddy tests this new phenomenon by touching his nose by himself. His disbelief is outdone only by Avey's giggles as he finds that his nose does indeed beep upon contact with his finger. 
  • After a few more trials and exaggerated anxiety over this bizarre finding, Avey suggests through her laughter that we should go to the doctor to see if he can help.
  • We are then instantly transported to a doctor's office where I then have to fill the role of both Doctor and histrionic patient while Avey attempts to be the supportive daughter during this uncertain time. The script usually goes something like this:
    • Dr. [somewhat annoyed] - "Oh, hello again Mr. Ricks. What seems to be the problem this time?"
    • Daddy [full of theatrics] - "Doctor! You have to help me! I don't know what's wrong!"
    • Dr. [fighting the urge to roll his eyes] - "You don't say."
    • Daddy - "Yes I do! It's happening again Doc! Every time somebody touches my nose, it makes this ominous beeping sound!"
    • Dr. [playing along] - "Oh yes. I've seen this before. Let's take a look."
  • The doctor (I) inspects Daddy's (my) nose. Sure enough, the beep takes place as soon as the contact does. Daddy looks desperately to the doctor for any hope of a cure. 
    • The doctor pretends to think for a moment and says - "Yes, I can help you. You see, Mr. Ricks, the beeping noise is coming from your mouth."
    • Daddy - "Yes, yes! But what does that mean?"
    • Dr. - "Well, it means that you are making the sound."
    • Daddy [confused] - "Okay."
    • Dr. - "So just stop making the noise with your mouth whenever anybody touches it."
    • Daddy [cautiously] - "So you're saying that if I just stop making the noise with my mouth, my nose won't beep any more?"
    • Dr. - "Yes, that's right. That will be $200."
  • Naturally, the more we go through the scenario, Avey has taken on more of the role of trying to convince Daddy that he has the power to stop the beeping at any time he wishes. Last time, she even tried to explain the problem to me before we went to the doctor, but had us go just to be sure. 
Another that Avey loves in particular is known as Calling Vic.

  • Avey climbs onto my back, but tells me to "not remember that [she's] climbing on [me]." I obey, as always.
  • As I walk around the house, oblivious to the 34 pound hitchhiker wrapped around my neck, Avey begins to make little squeaking noises. 
  • I finally catch on that something is not quite right, so I venture into the bathroom to catch a glimpse of the cause of these noises in the mirror. 
  • As soon as I flip on the light, I scream in terror to see that I've become host to a small human girl. She laughs hysterically. 
  • She suggests that I call Vic.
  • I then play the role of Vic, an exterminator, as well as myself. 
    • Vic [with a southern accent] - "Vic's Extermination."
    • Daddy [as if I'm being attacked by an alligator] - "Vic, you gotta help me! It's back!"
    • Vic [dryly] - "Is that you again Mr. Ricks?"
    • Daddy - "There's no time, Vic! Get over here quick!"
    • Vic [obviously unhurried] - "I'm on my way."
  • Vic arrives at the door. I let him in.
    • Daddy - "Oh Vic! Thank goodness! Can you see it? It's right here on my back!"
    • Vic [unimpressed] - "Yes sir, I see it."
    • Daddy - "Well, what is it? Does it have sharp teeth? Is it drinking my blood? Has it stung me yet?"
    • Vic - "No sir. Actually, I'm pretty sure this is your daughter."
    • Daddy [in disbelief] - "No! It can't be!"
    • Vic - "Yes sir, I think it is."
  • Daddy looks more closely in the mirror. Further inspection reveals that, yes, it is indeed Avey. 
    • Daddy [embarrassed] - "Oh."
  • I let Avey down off of my back.
    • Vic - "That'll be $50."
For some reason these games never get old to her. I bet it's mostly because she loves to watch me embarrass myself, all the while knowing better. Hopefully these games will still be fun to her in 50 years when senility sinks in and it's no longer a game. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

On Laxation

Avey's latest obsession has been going on for several weeks now, and is (hopefully) at its peak. I've been hesitant to write about it on the web, but think it deserves some documentation. So what better way to kick off another year of The Ricks Experiment than by writing about the process of defecation?

Yes, Avey's latest hobby is to see how many times she can say the word "poopy" in a sentence. Sometimes she'll change it up and throw in a "pee pee" or a "bum", but her favorite, by far, is "poopy". We may be sitting at the dinner table, getting dressed, playing a game, or any other activity, and Avey will have an urge to blurt out the word of questionable appropriateness. I think she finds joy in the small dose of rebellion it involves - she knows it's kind of a dirty word that one would never say in church, for example, so she gets that much more joy out of saying it and getting the predictable reactions of disgust from everyone to whom she says it. Of course, I'm guilty of laughing nearly half the time because it shows up in the most random places; a few weeks ago, after telling her a bedtime story, I kissed her on the forehead, told her I love her, and moved toward the door before finally saying, "Have sweet dreams." To this, she responded with, "Have sweet dreams of poopy!" barely able to form the words through her uncontrollable belly laugh. I couldn't help but laugh along with her.

I keep trying to reassure myself that this is just a phase, but after our trip to Colorado for the Holidays, I'm not so sure. A wonderful quality of all of my siblings is that they are naturally good at relating to young children. They have a gift for coming down (and often staying down) at a child's level of cognition and processing. While this trait is wonderful for helping Avey to feel among peers, it has also served to reinforce her love of bathroom humor. Avey introduced her interest in the latest stage of the digestive process to my siblings during a meal, and they not only permitted discussion of it, but took it to strange new levels. Avey particularly enjoys substituting "poopy" at random places in her favorite children's songs (e.g., "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Poopy had a very shiny poopy" and so on). Well, this got the creative juices flowing in certain members of my family, with whom I share much of my DNA by the way, and they came up with all sorts of hilarious, if somewhat troubling, contexts in which one might replace a noun or adjective with any number of references to human excrement. Yes, I come from proud stock, don't I? I guess it should be no surprise that Avey finds this kind of activity so engaging - she is related to the best, after all.

Perhaps she, like the rest of the Ricks clan, will eventually learn to overcome the temptation to gross out every single person she meets - at least most of the time.