Sunday, July 29, 2012

More Milestones

We are pleased to announce the reaching of several important moments in our children's development this week. In the following video, for example, Carver learned to tolerate Dad's odd games.
video
Avey had her second haircut ever. She wanted it as short as Kira's, which meant that it would be reduced in length by about half. Kira coached her through what that would mean, and that it would probably be more than a year to get it back to its previous length. Avey confirmed her choice and here is the finished product:
The Ladies Model Their Haircuts
In another great feat of strength and endurance, Carver learned to roll over yesterday. We had been growing concerned about his lack of progress, but then he rolled over 3 times with little difficulty. When we celebrated with cheers and smiles, he expressed indifference. He watched our jubilance with curiosity, as if to say, "What's the big deal? Can't you guys do that?"
Smile Contest
Kira accepted a new assignment at church today also. She has been working as the RS Secretary since we moved here, and today was asked to teach a Family Relations class.
They Both Win!
Aside from milestones, Avey grows increasingly annoyed with my occasional bursting into song (a habit I must have picked up from my father). She revealed to me some time ago that she likes only "silly" and "beautiful" songs, and apparently my songs fit neither of those stringent criteria. I decided that I would, therefore, try some of the silliest songs I know. I sang the "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells" classic we all know and love, and it apparently earned Avey's approval. She requested it a few times since that day, and got quite interested in the song's background. She said to me, "I wonder what that song means. Why is Batman stinky? How could a human lay an egg? What happened to the Batmobile's wheel? Why would a boy learn ballet?
Tummy Time
Maybe we'll work more on dissolving gender stereotypes after the Olympics are over.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Schedules

As novice parents dealing with our children's ever-developing personalities, Kira and I have struggled to find the best ways to encourage Avey to do things in a timely manner. For example, at some point as I was growing up I realized that if I just did my chores/ate my food/brushed my teeth, rather than whining for 20 minutes and then doing it, I could move on to things that I enjoyed doing. Avey has not yet made this cognitive leap. If I had a nickle for every time Kira or I has patiently explained to her that if she just eats her last 3 bites she can get down and play, while she proceeds to stall and get distracted for 20 and 30 minutes at a time, I could retire right now and hire somebody to say the same thing to Carver when he's on solid foods. 
video
It finally dawned on us that she may be more of a visual learner. After all, she loves to draw and paint, she learned to count to 100 using the visual chart I made her, and I am certainly more visual in my learning style. Thus, we developed a daily schedule chart so that she can see the time, and a picture of what needs to happen during that time. 
Can't Help but Kiss That Face!
What a difference it has made! I laminated the chart this week, and she loves to mark off each item as she completes it, and then move onto the next thing so that she can mark that one off too. Then, in the morning, she can erase the board and start anew. 
Carver's "Brainy" Look
We will need to remember this little tool as she grows older. Perhaps when she's a teenager we can put a photo of a clean room on her bedroom wall and she'll be more inclined to keep her room tidy. I'm playing around with ideas of making a menu with photos of awesome foods next to the days of the week. Maybe if we're lucky she'll start cooking every night!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cause and Effect

Young children often have a difficult time making logical connections between related events. This is often why a toddler will test a toy's durability to the point of permanent damage, and then suffer disappointment that it no longer works as it once did. Perhaps the best illustration of this characteristic is an experience Avey and I had a few days ago.
video
(Kira caught her flipping through a songbook and making up songs from the pictures)

It was a sunny, sweltering day in West Texas. I was home for the day, taking a little break from school duties to spend some time with my favorite daughter. After an enjoyable time at the swimming pool, she suggested we go to The Dollar Store where she could spend some of the quarters she has saved. I, never one to discourage an opportunity to teach the value of the dollar (and always on the lookout for some cheap stuff), agreed. Upon arrival, Avey quickly decided to purchase the second item she saw - a package of water balloons. 

I suggested we look through the store a little longer, so that I could see if I spied anything useful. Avey followed, stopping every 2-3 seconds to point at another item and say, "Dad! Look at this!", or "What does this do?" or "Next time we come, I'm going to buy that!" After a good 5 minutes or so of this, having stopped me dozens of times to answer her questions or covet a particular item with her, we had moved through one aisle. Clearly discouraged by our lack of progress toward the checkout, she let out a huge, annoyed sigh and said, "Dad, you are taking forever." 
video
Pointless as it was, I tried to describe to her how I might have moved faster through the store had she not stopped me in between each breath she took. And I'm sure after this trip she made a mental note that I am very difficult to shop with. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hodge Podge

We've had so much going on the last few weeks that I'm having a difficult time narrowing my focus for today's entry into the Ricks Family Journal, a.k.a. the blog you are currently reading. Thus, you, the avid reader, will now be mercilessly subjected to several disjointed anecdotes. 
The Kiddos
I finished teaching my first college course this week! It was a lot of work (if I were to do the math it probably would work out to about $3 an hour), a lot of fun, and a great challenge. I promise I learned more than any one of my students, but I bet most of them left the class with a decent understanding of sensation and perception. I look forward to teaching again - hopefully a topic with which I am more familiar - and grooming young learners to join the world with an appreciation of all there is to know.
Carver Thinks about What He's Done
 Carver has been making great progress in social and physical development. He is laughing more and reciprocating attempts at conversation. Today I was talking to him and he had that look on his face you might get when somebody speaks to you in a foreign language and is clearly into what they're saying. His face said, "Dad, I have no idea what you're saying, but I bet it's really entertaining, so good for you!"
Free Toe Inspections
He's also been improving in his agility. One of his favorite things to do these days is grab his toes. I admit, I enjoy grabbing his toes too, so I can see the appeal.

Avey's been switching between acting like a complete angel to a moody pre-teen. She's probably trying to cope with how hectic things have been with me at campus more than ever, the hot weather, everyone's lack of sleep, and continuing to relinquish her stranglehold on her parents to a guy who can't even hold his head up for more than 5 minutes at a time. She's started daily chores around the house, which has given her a real sense of responsibility (we hope). She's gone strong with it so far, and every day I come home to find the great work she did.
The Whole Family
Kira has been holding down the fort even while the hostiles are the ones housed in said fort. It is her birthday tomorrow, and we look forward to having a nice celebration among all the chaos. She is so selfless in the rest of life that we too often must force her to take a few minutes for herself. Her first action in the morning, and often the wee hours thereof, is to nourish our son. Then, nearly every morning she feeds our daughter, puts the boy down for a nap, and eventually squeezes out a few minutes to feed herself breakfast around the time most people are eating lunch. In the few minutes that she is not caring for our children, she is usually working on her church obligations, keeping up on phone calls and birthday cards to dozens of relatives, making meals for other new mothers, providing a listening ear to friends and family in need, being an ally to her clients, and offering encouraging words to a husband who can only imagine what it really means to be overwhelmed. Avey, Carver, and I are very fortunate to have her, at the very least, to be a shining example of service and selflessness. Hopefully we can emulate her to some small degree for this week, and maybe a little more every day. Happy Birthday, Kira!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Splash?

Because I am technically a guest lecturer at UTEP for the summer, my family and I were invited to a staff appreciation "Splash 'n' Sparks Extravaganza" this week. We made arrangements to go, planning parking, timing feeding schedules, and coordinating vehicles. Judging by the title of the event, we were certain of two things; there would be some sort of fireworks display, and we should prepare to get wet. 

Avey was beside herself with excitement. She got to stay up late and get wet! All kids enjoy a good splash, but in Texas heat getting soaked is considered preventive care. We got her in her swimsuit with some other clothes that could get nice and drenched. To our dismay, however, when we arrived at the activity we discovered that the only water present was in prepackaged bottles meant for drinking. I spent the remainder of the weekend poring over the meaning of the word "splash". Is there some odd colloquialism known only to El Pasoans? Is "splash" a Spanish word for "dry"? I knew I had not misread the invitation - they gave us commemorative t-shirts of the event - it says right there, "Splash 'n' Sparks Extravaganza". Perhaps there was metaphorical splashing of sorts. Could it be that we were being "splashed" with entertainment and atmosphere the whole time? I suppose it's possible, but I, for one, was far too distracted by the lack of literal splashing to take in the apparently deeper meaning.
If nothing else, the evening did provide some fun memories. For example, I was following Avey as she scoped out the grounds, and she turned to me and said, "Dad, I have an idea. You could be my helper who carries everything for me!" I, already overexerted from the heat, lamented, "Oh, that doesn't sound very fun." Avey, offering the best encouragement she could, replied, "That's okay, you'll get used to it!"
Well this pack mule needs a few days off. Thank goodness our founding fathers had the wisdom to sign the Declaration of Independence in July so that we might have some respite from the toils that come with freedom! Happy Independence Day to all!