Sunday, August 31, 2014

Reunifying

This 3-day-weekend is the setting of a family reunion on my mother's side. My grandparents celebrated their 50th anniversary, and we made it a big party. The festivities have been full and engaging, and we are so thrilled to have family here, including several I've never even met. It's also meant that our children are running on fumes - Carver had two days of 45-minute naps (atrocious compared to his usually 90-120 minutes).
Hakan and Nana, Finally Acquainted
The children were so thrilled to be at [my] Grandma's house with the huge yard, that they spend most of their time outside. The unfortunate thing is that the very same yard is full of sunshine and mosquitoes. There is not enough bug spray or sun block in the world to keep them safe from both all the time. With all of our chasing them around, I was nearly eaten alive by mosquitoes. I will spend the next few days fighting the urge to scratch and recovering from the blood loss.
Naturally, family gatherings also means food, and our kids dislike foods that are out of their normal routine. That means that they turned their noses up at nearly everything that was offered. We did our best to just stuff them with calories of some sort for the sake of our collective sanity.
My Sis' and I
Hakan's cheeks must be sore right now on account of all his smiling. I have many teenage cousins who love adorable babies, and Hakan easily fits into their target group. We could have avoided him altogether if it weren't for the feedings he needs. The little guy practically turned the whole event into a flirting marathon - giving the biggest grins and cutest coos he could muster. If this weekend was any indication, we will have to lock him in his room when he's a teenager.
Avey vacillated between bored and having the time of her life. She lifted her head up from her books just long enough to make instant friends with one of her second cousins. They were inseparable. Fortunately we have mail service here, and perhaps some day there will be a way to instantly send messages to another person, perhaps via computer or a similar device. 

We are all aching to recover, but thrilled to have my mother and brother in town almost all to ourselves for one more day. We hope to see the rest of you all at the next reunion!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Highchair Discourses with Carver

Our children so far are verbal by nature. Both Avey and Carver were talking long before they walked. As Avey has extended her dominion over the household while she is home, Carver often is left trying to gain some attention from his parents whenever he can get a word in. One of those times happens to be when he is in his highchair. The situation is ideal - he has little else to do but talk, and because we know he will go hungry if we are not close by to ensure that he eats, he uses that time to collect and share with us his most intimate thoughts. 

What usually happens is Carver will free associate elements from shows he's seen with situations he encounters in his daily shenanigans, and deep thoughts he's had. For example, he might tell me all about a scene that had a bear in it, then explain that bad guys aren't nice, and then go on to describe how his water bottle works. He often repeats himself, and the expression on his face and in his voice makes clear that he is very passionate about whatever happens to be coming from his lips. 
He's also developed a very polite habit recently. He enjoys complimenting people on anything he happens to notice about them. He might say, with a very sincere voice, "Sis', I like your hair!" or "Dad, I like your glasses!" His favorite is to compliment someone's shirt. One morning during breakfast, I decided to return the compliment, and say, "Carver, I like your haircut!" Carver kindly corrected my faux pas by explaining, "No Dad, you like everybody's shirt. Is that clear?"
Hakan has been talking more and more lately too. All we need is to make eye contact with him and coo at him, and he will unleash. I will try to catch that on video soon. We gave him his first haircut yesterday, buzzing it all down to a manageable crew cut. He looks a little strange, but I'm sure it will be worth it to have it all grow in evenly now.
Avey and I begin school tomorrow. I am a little excited, but would be much more so if I had some solid data sources for my dissertation. It's like pulling teeth trying to get governmental agencies to let me survey their staff. I got one agency agreement this week, so let's hope that's primed the well.

Avey met her teacher yesterday, and is thrilled to get back into her element of performance-based evaluation. She thrives at school, and will probably tell everybody she meets that she can read a whole chapter book in one day. That's often her favorite thing to tell grocery store clerks, people in line, patrons who happen to sit near us at restaurants, and so on.

We are excited to have a family reunion in town next week, and hope to have some great stories to tell!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Just the Three of Us

Kira flew to Colorado this week to support her friend whose grandmother had passed on. Hakan went along with her, for obvious reasons. It is fortunate that school has not yet started, and that Hakan is old enough to be a good traveler. She returns today, and it sounds like it was a good trip. 

In the cat's absence, the mice will often venture out. These little ones sure did. We patronized a nearby thrift store:
 We sampled West Texas' finest consumable goods:
 We indulged in imaginative play:
 And for much of the time we just hung around:
Overall, the kids were well-behaved. Arguments sprouted here and there, but generally the kiddos play well together.

Avey kept herself busy with her most recent love - reading chapter books. For a long time, she was hesitant with her reading abilities, insisting that we had to read certain stories to her. We were finally introduced to Barbara Park's Junie B. Jones series. Avey had me read her the first one, and then became excited to try reading on her own. Now she blows through one in about an hour. Her sweet grandmother has been sending her two books at a time every few days, but Avey is thus far insatiable.

I've been trying to distract her by getting her interested in learning to type, because she also has a new email account and enjoys sending a few emails each night. A few nights ago, after I suggested how learning to type would make it easier to write the emails, she told me, "But I already know where most of the keys are that I use." I didn't learn how to type until high school, so maybe I am too ambitious - she is only six!

Carver has been especially funny lately. The other day he was giving the prayer and said, "Thank you we watch a show all day..." I promise that was before Kira left, and they don't just watch television all day, so hopefully it's just his two-year-old perspective showing.

He's been prone to spoonerisms for some weeks now. For a long time, Carver has called chips "pitch," and to this day, still calls the kitchen "the chicken." He'll say, "Dad, go in the chicken, and I throw you a ball." or something similar.

We've missed Kira dearly in her absence. Avey has been preparing to reveal all of our "surprises" to her, which means she has collected little items from everything we've done, no matter how routine. One real surprise we have is that we got Avey a haircut a few days ago. Her hair is now shoulder length, and she looks frighteningly grown up.

It's getting time to head to the airport, so I must bid you all farewell. More adventures are certain to follow.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Mind of a Child

Our kids had some pretty funny moments this week. Here are just a few.

Kira's best friend since childhood has been going through some difficult times lately, and Kira has been helping out by keeping in touch with her. One of the problems was when a German Shepherd attacked her dog, seriously injuring it. Kira explained the whole story of the attack to me, with Avey listening close by. After the story was over, Avey thought about the incident, and wondered aloud, "Why would a shepherd do that?" 
Avey Lectures in My Classroom
We took a moment to explain that a German Shepherd is a breed of dog, not a person in a robe with a big curvy stick. Although there's certainly nothing funny about the hurt dog, I can't help but chuckle at the scene she must have seen in her mind of a man in a robe jumping out of a car through the window to repeatedly bite a dog he didn't know. Luckily, the poor dog will recover, but not before a few more visits to the vet.
Hakan Admires the Camera
Carver, like most boys, loves toy cars. He has a set he received last Christmas with which he's played lately, and the set includes an ambulance. He left his ambulance out on the carpet during one of his many playing binges, and Avey happened upon it. She took the liberty of testing out its features for a moment, when Carver came storming in, furious that she would dare touch his sacred property. As Avey tried to defend her actions, Carver shot back, "No! This is not a toy!"
Let's Drink Our Fruit!
That boy can sure be moody. In another example, Kira was attempting to feed Carver the other day, as she often does. Carver was putting up a fight, refusing to open his mouth and deflecting all attempts to entice him. Because he was fighting off hot dog, and he sometimes likes it with ketchup, I broke in with, "Carver, would you like some ketchup with your hot dog?" Carver's demeanor changed instantly - he looked at me directly and, calm and polite as a gentleman, replied, "No, I'm just being mean to Mom."

At least he calls it what it is.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Highs and Lows

This week was a collection of highs and lows. One wonderful highlight was the lower temperature throughout the week. Rather than suffering through the low 100s, we had a lot of rain which brought us down into the 80s for a few days. It was glorious.
A fantastic high of the week was just last night. The little smile machine drifted peacefully off to sleep around 10:45 p.m. and did not wake up until around 7:00 a.m. He might have gone even longer, but Kira was in need of some relief so got him nursing. We are now officially going to keep him in the family.
The low of my week was easily Friday. My employer has transitioned to new Human Resources software, and apparently that means a whole lot of problems for me. The first month they forgot to pay me, and then it took them 3 days to get me my money. One would think that the first time would be enough motivation to solve the problem, but then it happened again for this month. I was told that I could pick up a check  at 3:30 on Friday. Mind you, by that time Kira has been home with 3 loud and needy children for several hours so that I can try to get my dissertation off the ground. I show up right at the designated time, and the office person tells me that it won't actually be there until 4:00. I sit, wait, and grumble. I can't get any work done because I'm in a waiting area without a computer, and my children are probably eating each other alive at home. But all I can do is wait.

Finally, at around 4:10, the checks arrive, and I patiently wait for my name to be called. The woman tells me that someone is coming to speak with me. That strikes me as odd, but I wait for her to come and bring me to her office. She explains that they "forgot" to print my check and so it's going to be another 20 minutes...
If that wasn't enough, when I finally got my check, I needed to stop by the store for diapers for Smiley McGee over here, because he blows through them like nobody's business. Of course, it's rush hour by then, and it has been raining all day. El Pasoans get very weird about driving through rain. In sum, it took me about 30 minutes to make the normally 12 minute trip.

Finally home and defeated, Carver unleashed on me with his foam sword, and I bore it all with resignation.

Maybe Hakan sensed the trouble, and decided to fix his sleeping schedule to keep me from tipping over the edge. In any case, he sure is a charmer, and seems much cuter after some good, solid sleep.