Sunday, December 27, 2015

Thanks for All the Laughs, 2015

We had a wonderful and busy week preparing for and taking our trip to Oklahoma. Kira's brother recently moved there with his family, and it was the closest place we could meet up with her side of the family. After hosting our unexpected guest last Sunday, and with word that there was an illness going around with the Oklahoma relations, we opted to delay the drive for a day. That allowed for much smoother prep time but then we spent the first half of the drive in a heavy rain storm. 
We made pretty good time, and it was great to be with more children for Christmas. The kids had a grand time with their cousins, and their brand new baby helped us get an idea of how we will handle our next bundle of joy. Hakan was very gentle and interested, as we had hoped. 
We adults did not get much time together to chat and relax, but at least the kids will have fun memories of their cousins. Carver got along swimmingly with his cousin about the same age. Avey was the oldest, so was a bit bored with some of their games, but she led them on "spying" adventures.
The kids loved their Christmas gifts, and even made some thoughtful ones for each other and us. Avey spent a lot of time on a beautiful Christmas card for us, gave Hakan a coupon good for 20 minutes of playing with her (easily one of his top 3 favorite things ever), and even tried to get along with Carver for a few minutes (a gift for everyone). 

We are driving home as I write this, and it has been raining nonstop for the last 6 hours. It's dreary, but at least the roads are not icy. 

We are excited for another eventful year full of all the craziness we've come to expect. We hope yours is full of joy!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

It's A...

[Drumroll] It's a BOY! We had a successful peek at the new baby on Thursday, and all is where it should be, for which we are very grateful. The due date is officially May 3, 2016, but knowing our track record it will probably end up being late April, right during a lecture when I'm in the city. We are also excited to find out that it's a boy, not that a girl would have been disappointing, but just because now we know. Truth be told, Avey was heartbroken to find out that she will again be the odd one out. Especially with the age gap between Carver and her, but with the boys all about 2 years apart, Avey is feeling a little like a lioness among puppy dogs. Thankfully she has good people skills and makes friends easily. She'll just need to form some lifelong friendships with some girls her age.
Face on the Right
We had a very busy week otherwise. I started to feel a little under the weather on Monday. Tuesday was bad enough that I didn't go into the office, but tried working from the public library, and then Wednesday was completely lost. I slowly felt better on Thursday and have been making strides since, though I'm still not there all the way. For example, yesterday I was very tired and said that I could do just about anything that did not require thinking or jogging, to which Avey replied, "You could do both of those together by jogging your memory." 

Hakan was about a day ahead of me with the illness, and Kira is now a few days behind, although hers seems milder. At least it is all coming now before we travel, and after the semester. 
Yesterday included a random line from Carver, which is usually good for a laugh. Carver was giving me a big hug, and we were in such a position that Hakan could reach him, and Hakan decided that he wanted to hug me too. To express his jealousy, Hakan began to whack Carver lightly on the back. Carver, in response, said to me, "This is why I want Hakan to go to jail." The rest of us erupted in laughter, and eventually came to clarify that Carver would simply like Hakan contained on occasion. 

Lastly, and perhaps most random, yesterday evening, as I was pulling into the driveway after some Christmas shopping, I received a call from my sister. Apparently, her roommate had missed a connecting flight and was stuck in Chicago until this evening, but had no place to stay. After a little coordinating, I picked her up and we had a guest! I had met her before, so it was nice to know who it was. What's funny is that the kids have not left her alone since she woke up this morning. Avey is excited to impress her, Carver wants to show off his singing and superhero pajamas, and Hakan just wants to flirt with her. He almost wouldn't nap this morning because he couldn't stand to be away from her for that long. We'll have to arrange for her to join us another time so Kira and I can get a weekend away. I'm not sure the kids would even miss us!

Sunday, December 13, 2015


On one of the bath days this week, I took on a little too much. I had bathed Hakan and then Carver, but the water was not draining. As the boys were running around in their diaper and underwear (respectively), I tried to get the drain unplugged. Hakan was most interested in the process, and watched for a while. That boy has a strange fascination with the bathtub whenever anyone is in it, or at least any water. He explored this fascination as I worked by throwing things into the water. Mostly he threw bath toys, which was a little distracting, but no problem. Unfortunately, as I was focused on what I was doing with my hands, he got an idea to add some variety to his experimentation and tossed his favorite blanky in the tub. I grabbed it out as soon as it hit the surface, but the damage was done. The blanky was far too wet for use.
The especially sad part was that it was bedtime, and this boy needs his blanket for bedtime like I need a spoon to eat soup; it may be possible without it, but why bother? Kira quickly threw the blanky into the washer (it was long overdue for a wash anyway), but he needed sleep right away. We got him in jammies and gave him the binky, but naturally the essential piece was missing. I explained in terms he understood, "Blanky wet. Sad." He completely agreed that the blanky was wet, and the situation was sad, but he did not seem to understand why he could not just have his blanky dry now. How does one explain the laws of physics to an 18-month-old? We offered him other, similar blankies, but he wanted nothing to do with those impostors. Thankfully, he eventually nodded off, and we draped his by-then-dry blanky over him. Continuing the nightmare, however, he awoke at midnight screaming for his blanky, apparently dreaming about the drama. I had to take him and show him by nightlight that the blanky in his arms was in fact his precious. It must have felt and smelled just different enough to him that it seemed to be an intruder, but he eventually went back to sleep with his dear blanky to keep him warm and safe. Now it seems that he's soaked it in enough drool, or whatever, that it smells and feels familiar again, and all is right with the world.
Carver had a good one this week too. Yesterday was a breakfast with Kira's ward, where the kids got some candy canes. They were trying them out as we drove home. Carver asked me to help him open the plastic in which it was wrapped, and gave it a try. As I turned my attention to getting us home safely, I hear him shriek, "It's poison!" The look on his face seemed like the traditional holiday treat might really have been deadly. His reaction was quite humorous, but we think he meant to say that the peppermint was a little too spicy for his tongue. He'll get the hang of English eventually.

I am done with grading for the semester, and now am just preparing for the next one. This is Avey's last week at school before the break, and we've got a lot going on. We will find out the sex of Baby #4 on Thursday, as long as (s)he cooperates. If you haven't placed your bets yet, now is the time!

Sunday, December 6, 2015


We are so busy with the normal routine of feeding, bathing, clothing, and tidying up after our kiddies that we are often wont to nothing else. I have hoped to get to hanging some Christmas lights on the house, and we still have some holiday shopping to do, but every time we get a few minutes of quiet, we find ourselves either doing other chores that desperately need doing, or relishing in sitting down. 

Somehow, we managed to pull ourselves away over the weekend for some events in a neighboring township.
There was a free showing of the holiday film, Elf, at the theater, which the older kids enjoyed (although Carver asked me about 40 minutes in why it was so long). And then we got to enjoy a kid-sized train ride, and admire an ice sculpture:
Hopefully the kids will remember these times with fondness, because it was mostly chaos and stress for Kira and me. 

The kids remain in strange phases. Carver still has a rough time getting talked into eating, and Hakan has been keeping us on our toes with his sleeping. For a few nights in a row, he woke up somewhere between midnight at 3:00 a.m. as if he were ready to start the day. To keep his squeals of delight from waking his brother, we resorted to bringing him into our bed and laying him down so that he could get the picture that it is still sleepy time. Some nights it has worked after he lays for a long time with us, but a few nights either Kira or I have had to get up with him so the other could actually get some sleep. He gave us a few nights of rest, but then started up again on Saturday morning, keeping me up for an hour. 

Fortunately, the semester is almost over, so I have little scheduled, but it's certainly not good for our health. We hope this phase passes soon.

Otherwise, Kira is feeling much better with the pregnancy, and has an appointment coming up soon. We are excited to learn the gender in the next few weeks, and are taking guesses!

Sunday, November 29, 2015


Carver is a big fan of the yogurt that comes in individual tubes that he can squeeze. However, he has had some difficulty ensuring that he gets every last drop. Ergo, he must often request Kira's or my help. One morning earlier this week, as I was his meal wing-man, he requested my help to "fix" his yogurt. I enthusiastically responded, "Sure! I can save the day!" Carver chuckled at my silliness and said, "Dad, you can't save the day. You're not a superhero - look at you." He had me there. I learned quickly not to compare my minor meal contribution to, for example, Superman's repeated prevention of humankind's destruction. I am rightfully humbled. 
At another meal just yesterday, Carver wanted to play the Question Game. This game dates back to at least my childhood, where the child "earns" a bite of food he doesn't want only after answering a trivia question. Sometimes it is the only thing that will get Carver to take a bite of food. We were playing this game, and Carver frequently likes to suggest questions for me to ask him. He may say, "Daddy, tell me about who is Captain Hook's crew," which means, of course, that he wants me to ask him about Captain Hook's crew. Yesterday, just before a bite, Carver lit up as he got an idea. "Daddy, ask me where goldfish come from!" I was impressed that he would want such a difficult question, so I obeyed. "Carver, where do goldfish come from?" He thought for a second and then said, as if he were actually answering the question, "I don't know." Upon further reflection, I'm glad that he has the humility to admit that some things are beyond him for now. 
We thoroughly enjoyed our little Thanksgiving at home, except that the night before Kira discovered a little flooding in the basement. All of our snow had melted and it rained for two days straight, but fortunately, the water was not too much to handle, and once we knew it was there we could keep up on it easily. It's been dry since the rain stopped and the leak should be repaired soon. 

Even so, we kept our spirits high with food. I made two Boston cream pies and a chocolate pudding pie that we just couldn't get all the way through (try as we might), and we are still working on leftover turkey and rolls. For Black Friday, we hoped to avoid the crowds at all costs, but after Hakan and I found no traffic at the post office, we decided we would go get a Christmas tree to decorate. Although this is not the first year we've had the space, this is the year we all felt strongly about having a tree that is taller than we are. We invested in a nice 7' tree, and spent a good bit of the afternoon decorating it. Hakan is mesmerized by the lights, and has found a new hobby in de-decorating the lowest branches whenever he sees an ornament outbreak. If we could only divert his efforts toward the weeds in the yard...

I have just about two weeks left of the semester, and we are really getting excited for a real winter this year, with snow and all. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

First Snow of the Season

It's been a remarkably mild autumn so far, so we were beginning to feel a little like all of the talk we'd heard of the frigid temperatures was exactly that: just talk. And then we saw yesterday in the forecast. It was our first snow in Illinois, and it was all that we had imagined. 
We got probably 6 inches or so before it finally let up. Then I was off to shovel our two-wide driveway, which did wonders for my back. My strapping young sons watched from the comfort of the front room.
Hakan's Winter Ensemble
Hakan was very curious about all of this cold white stuff falling from the sky, and quickly mastered the word, "snow." Once outside, however, he trotted around for a few minutes in it (wearing Carver's cowboy boots), and then found a nice, freezing cold puddle that he could plow through a few dozen times. He had a grand old time, and then after finally dragging him inside, we discovered two things: that the boots were not waterproof at all, and that Hakan must have an enormous tolerance for discomfort.
Most importantly, we built a snowman. We somehow ended up building him leaning over as far as possible without falling, but at least that way, when we look at him from inside the house, it looks like the wind is blowing wildly as if about to carry him away. 

The night the snow started, we all attended a variety show put on by Avey's school. Avey decided that she wanted to read one of her original poems she's written since we moved here. She was so brave to stand in front of all the crowd and read her poem all alone, but everybody loved it, and she was great.
The weather will warm up a little this week, but we're sure that more snow is coming. We are excited for a great Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Yucky Feelings

Unfortunately, the big news of this week was nothing pleasant. My step-grandfather passed away on Wednesday following a quick decline after a hip injury. Our sympathies go out to my grandmother and everyone who knew Lee. He was my grandmother's second husband, after my grandfather passed away about 10 years ago. I wish I could make it to the funeral this week, but it's just too much to miss in the middle of the week, and at a crucial time in the semester. My thoughts will be with them.

We've had our own (relatively minor) health troubles in the house too. Avey had some tummy trouble earlier this week and went to bed feeling crummy, only to be abruptly awoken around 9:45 by the contents of her stomach spreading out all over her bed and pajamas. After some damage control, she was back asleep without further incident during the night. Although we've been spared further vomiting, her tummy still is not quite back to normal - her appetite is very meager.
Buried in Leaves
As if that wasn't enough for us, Hakan came down with a fever and very stuffy nose early in the week. The poor guy was miserable most of the time, and it seemed the only comfort he found was in being held. Nights were the worst, as he would wake up furious at something, and completely inconsolable. We managed to ride out his screams until he was back in reality for a moment, but then he insisted on sleeping between us in our bed. That wouldn't be so bad except that he likes his space and will kick until he has it. I spent most of this week's night hours precariously perched on the 6 inches of mattress nearest its edge.

It turns out that Hakan was on his way to an ear infection, but his fever broke on Friday and we got him on some medicine that same day. He's feeling much better now, but still insisted (quite convincingly, I might add) on sleeping with us last night after interrupting my sleep every half hour or so.

I'm trying not to tempt fate by typing this, but this coming week is bound to be better than the last, right?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Numbing the Pain

The tragic dance of life continues as I complete yet another pass around the center of our solar system. My family did all that they could to help ease my transition into being 34. Kira let me sleep in and then took the kids to pick up some groceries while I took my time getting ready for the day, and relaxing a bit. When they got home, Hakan slept, and I fed the kids and opened my gifts. Carver got me an awesome Hot Wheels truck. I don't necessarily care much for toy trucks these days, but I know how much he loves them, so I was very moved by his thought to get me something that is so cool to him. Avey made me a "Birthday Boy" crown out of yellow paper, and so I wore that most of the day. Kira, along with some wonderful gifts of things I needed, was very kind in taking over many of my daily chores. I also had some kind and generous gifts through the mail and email, and some delightful phone calls from far away places and people.

For the day's festivities, Kira talked me out of moping around all day. Instead, I thought the kids might enjoy experiencing a little of my daily commute experience. We went to ride the train into the city. On Saturdays, the train comes infrequently, so we prepared for a specific time, and headed to the station. I should have thought ahead better, though, because the ticket office was closed, leaving us to purchase our tickets on the train, but they take only cash. Kira and I rarely carry cash. The train was due to come in about 4 minutes, so I ran frantically from business to business asking if they do cash back or have an ATM. No luck. I gave up and went back to the station, knowing that we had 2 hours until the next train would come. I checked my watch to see that the train was late, and decided to make one last attempt to make this work. I ran across the tracks (legally) and found a Walgreens with an ATM. I made it back just in time to get us all on the train and into the city.
The train was the most packed I had ever seen since we moved here. Apparently everybody in the suburbs decided to celebrate my birthday with us. Kira and the kids found some seats while I tried to keep our enormous double stroller out of everyone's way. Somehow, we made it to Chicago intact.

Every day I cross the bridge next to the train station and look down at the river taxis in the water, and I think, "Jeepers, I bet the kids would have a swell time riding on that!" So I wanted to be sure they got to. We found one just about to leave on a 15-minute trip, so we plopped in for a leisurely boat ride through the city. We went under several bridges, and it was a unique view of all of the skyscrapers from a river in the middle of Chicago. We all agreed afterward that the boat was our favorite part. Hakan even kept us all entertained with his "OOOooh"s and "WOOOAAAH"s, while often waving at people walking by or in other boats, "HIIIeeee!"
We then rode back to the train station on a bus to complete the circle of public transportation available, but missed our train home by about 60 seconds. It turned out to be okay, because we were then able to feed Hakan his meal and Carver got a good nap, passed out in the stroller.
On the ride home, I ordered a deep dish pizza (compliments of my siblings), which we then picked up on the way home from the station. After getting Hakan in bed, we then all settled in to watch Pixar's Inside Out, even letting Avey and Carver stay up past their bedtime. It was a delightful film: fun for the whole family. 

It was about as good as a birthday can be at this age - we made good memories as a family (and ate a lot of chocolate cake). Here's to another great year!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Practice in Patience

[Yes, the title is also that of a The Parlor Mob song.] 

Carver has had little interest in eating for some time now, preferring instead to entertain himself with any number of toys and/or activities. Ergo, whenever he shows any interest in food, we are quick to respond. For breakfast lately, he fishes out the same foods every morning - baby food fruit, baby food meat mixed with baby food greens, yogurt, milk, and cheese slices. He likes to start off with his fruit, which is easy enough because we just open it up and shove a spoon in his hand. But as we busily work to get his meat and greens mixed, while also trying to keep enough food within reach of his younger brother, Carver often gets annoyed with us. He starts with the whiny tone of a 3-year-old, "Dad," which is always a winner around this place, and then finishes with the gem, "it's taking too long to open my yogurt." 

What he means to say, of course, is "Father, at your earliest convenience would you be so kind as to open my yogurt for me? I lack the skill."
We had a great Halloween yesterday. It rained all day, but that didn't keep Avey and Carver from running around the neighborhood, threatening mischief unless treats were offered. They came home with a big stash of goodies that is sure to last until next October.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Budding Buddies

We have hoped for some time that Carver and Hakan would find some common interests and become good friends. Of course, as soon as Hakan joined the family, he and Carver started out with very different aims; Hakan was just trying to figure out what the heck was going on, and Carver was coming to grips with losing a good chunk of his parents' attention to a little fussball. We figured it would take a while before they got to actually liking each other. 

Fortunately, it seems that the much awaited day has finally arrived. They've been playing together more and more in the last little while. One of their favorite games is to set up their chairs to face each other, and then play some bizarre game where they sort of kick each other's feet. At least they are gentle, for now. We also found just yesterday that when Carver gets on his knees and says, "hug," Hakan will run right up and wrap his arms around his brother. Sadly, the same method does nothing for Kira, Avey, or me. 
These guys are sure to become partners in crime very soon. We can't help but wonder what kind of mischief they will get into once Baby #4 is old enough to mimic them.
We are excited and overwhelmed by the thought of having another child join us. There is a lot of work and planning to do before we'll feel ready. It's funny, because just in the last few months when we've been out in the city or wherever, I have caught myself feeling like we were missing one of the kids, until I count them and realize they're all there. Now I'm a little worried that I'll forget one or two when we are out and about.

Luckily, Hakan reminds us what we have to look forward to. He is in a wonderfully adorable stage now where he often tries to repeat the last word of our sentence, but with more excitement. We've tried to catch him on camera saying his siblings' names, but to no avail. When he says Avey's name, he lights up like a firework, and says through an enormous grin, "Aybee." I asked him today to say "lion," and he just roared. Carver asked him to say "cow," and he responded with a "moo." Such a stud.

We are mostly feeling like this next one will be a girl, but that's probably mostly due to our need for symmetry. We would also enjoy all of the sound effects that would accompany another boy. We'll know for sure around Christmas, so stay tuned!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Calling Fourth

Deep in the innermost shadows of their ultra-secret lair in the suburbs somewhere in Illinois, the Terrific Trio were in the middle of a heated debate. Their battles over the last several weeks had made them weary, and tested their resolve. Caped Carver spoke first. He was the bravest, and most combustible of the three.

"Darn it! I hate these stupid bad guys!"

Agile Avey, the brains of the group, said, "Quiet, Carv. We mustn't lose our heads. Bad guys can be defeated. We just need to know how."

Hurricane Hakan, unofficially recognized as the loudest of the group, echoed with delight and much volume, "HOW!"

Avey recalled, "It's a daunting task. There are simply too many of them for us. I use my deadly reading skills against them, but I can speak only so loud before I am drowned out by Hakan's shouting. There, I said it."

Hakan, smiling at hearing his name, replied, "Haaaayyyke..."

Carver, thirsting for battle, added, "Yeah! And even though I am the best fighter in the whole world, I still need to take a break sometimes to eat a snack and watch some shows. I get boring [sic] of just fighting the whole day!"

The heroes had realized their plight. They were fighting an uphill battle against all of the imaginary bad guys that seemed to pour out of nowhere. All appeared hopeless...until,

"Wait!" Avey said. "I've got it!"

Carver, with his finger in his nose, stared into space for a moment (because he had skipped a nap that day), and then said, "What do you got, sis'?"

Avey looked behind her shoulder for a moment to be sure their plans were not overheard by any intruders. She turned back with a sneaky look on her adorable face.

"We are outnumbered against the bad guys, right?"

Carver nodded in agreement, although he did not quite understand the word "outnumbered." He had learned through trial-and-error to just go along with whatever Avey said. Hakan, with the attention span of a newborn puppy, was already digging around in some drawers he located.

Avey continued, "So then we have two choices. We can either be defeated - if not now, then in a few weeks - or we can do something bold."

Carver stared blankly, needing a nap so desperately that he struggled to remember what they were talking about. He also needed to use the potty, but as a rule, refused to acknowledge that fact until it was almost too late.

Hakan, whose hands were soaked from the free-flowing drool (his super power), was getting frustrated that they kept slipping off of the drawer handles. Avey ignored his whines of frustration. She was determined.

After her attempt to guide Carver to the same conclusion had failed, she made it for him. "So...we need another hero."

Carver smiled. "Oh yeah! That's a good idea! We'll get another superhero to be our friend!"

A loud, but indiscernible vote of approval came from Hakan, who had now gotten one hand stuck in the drawer while trying to retrieve a button from within.

Avey ignored her brothers as they struggled to keep up with her plan. She was already light years ahead. A "friend" was not enough, as they could never exercise the level of trust required within the Trio with a mere friend. They needed something far closer. They needed, a sibling.

Mild-mannered parents, Eli and Kira, were just the sort to help out. They immediately began drawing up names and costumes for the new superhero. Before long, the Terrific Trio would become the Freaking-Awesome Four.

Training of the fourth member has commenced, and (s)he should be ready for battle in late April or early May. Watch the skies...

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Bands and Baptisms

With three family members coming to town this week, we spent most of our "free" time preparing for their arrival. We cleaned in between work and feeding children, and Kira did laundry every time she could make it to the laundry room. Avey worked hard to get her room in decent shape, and Carver and Hakan played extra hard to get their toys warmed up for performances.

Hakan has been thrilled with the extra time and audience for flirting. He adored my younger brother each minute he was near, and just last night, Hakan sat up to the table and charmed his way through Grandma's french fries.
Avey had a good baptism. The biggest hurdle to clear was that the water was too hot, so that she took some coaxing to get in. We'd heard that the previous time they used the font the hot water had not been working, so perhaps we voiced too much concern that the missionaries who filled it thought to go to the other extreme. Still, after a little work it was all done, and not a moment too soon, because the boys were getting awfully bored. I feel like I spent half of the program just chasing Hakan around as he tried to get into the cultural hall and swipe a basketball. Carver had been asked to give the closing prayer, and assured us that he would be brilliant at it. When the time came, he froze in front of the little crowd, and then started praying so softly that I'm sure not even he could hear it. Avey, just a few feet in front of him, tried to encourage him to speak up, which set him off. He interrupted his prayer to whine at her and then mope. I was standing with him, trying to give him courage, and finally just got him to end the prayer. Had we waited for Avey and he to settle their differences first, I'm sure we'd still be in the room with our heads bowed. 
After the ceremony, we came home to change, and then Avey, my brother, and I all ventured into the city to show him some sights before he left this morning. We wish that he could have stayed longer, but alas...

Thursday night was a real treat for me this week. I cashed in my birthday and Christmas gifts for the year and went to see one of my favorite bands of late, Franz Ferdinand. Kira was kind enough to let me stay out past my bedtime, and manage the kids by herself. I'm not sure how I'll top that for her gift, but I can try.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Avey 8.0

We finished celebrating Avey's 8th birthday this week. She was thrilled with all of her gifts, and really enjoyed the many elaborate treats she had us make. She'd had her eyes on a recipe out of a Halloween goody recipe book. They are cupcakes that are made up to look like eyeballs. That was a lot of work, and a lot of sugar, but we survived.
Otherwise, it's been a typically busy week. I've been plugging away at work while the kids push Kira's buttons at home. Carver is in a relatively new phase where he wants to eat almost nothing. He used to have at least 5 or 6 main dishes through which he would shuffle, but in the last week or so he's been refusing nearly everything we offer. I understand turning down broccoli and green beans, but peanut butter on bread? He has basically limited himself to yogurt, and sometimes nachos. On the plus side, he has really excelled at entertaining himself at the same time. If left to his own devices, he will sit in a room and play for hours at a time with his cars or blocks or whatever else he can find. As long as Hakan isn't trying to interfere with his play, Carver just keeps at it.

Hakan has been in a weird phase too. Starting a couple of weeks ago, he's been staying up until our bedtime, even when he should be exhausted. He goes right down for naps otherwise, but when the other kids go to bed and the sun goes down, the inner vampire in him wakes up. He mostly just runs around and climbs on stuff, but even when it's clear that he's ready to sleep, he screams like a banshee when we approach his bedroom. The only thing that works so far is lying down with him in our own bed with the lights off while he screams for a few minutes and passes out. Then we move him to his own bed as gently as we can. I'm not sure this can go on much longer. It wears us all out. At least the good thing is that he sleeps in longer in the mornings. If only Carver could stay in bed past 6, that would be something.

We have another busy week ahead as we prepare for visitors coming for Avey's baptism. We are looking forward to it.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Walking Among the Fishes

Avey is turning 8 years old this week, which calls for much celebration. 
She decided what she wanted to do most of all was visit the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. We had also wanted to check it out, so we all loaded up in the Ricksmobile and trekked into the city. It was a beautiful day for it. Luckily, we were able to slip past the long line and go in through the ADA accessible entrance (thanks to 2 strollers). We stepped in to see all sorts of creatures.
Avey Was Grossed Out by the Caecilian
We saw everything we had hoped, including seahorses, an octopus, sharks, and even starfish! We were surprised to learn about all kinds of underwater animals we had never before known.
A Swarm of Little Shiny Blue Fish
Kira and I got to touch some sturgeons in a tank. The kids put their arms in, but were a little too short, and a little too nervous to actually touch the large fish.

Hakan was pretty interested in the exhibits, but more than anything he just wanted to run around and have somebody chase after him. He, like his older brother, loves chasing games like nobody's business.
Carver's Favorite Nursery Toy Ever
Since we moved to Illinois, and maybe a little before, Carver has been playing an interesting game of pretend. He will tell us all sorts of stories about his "new family." He starts out mentioning his new house or new dad, and all of the really cool things that he does or has at his new house. It is clear that he is not talking about our current home, because he makes up the most elaborate tales. Kira and I can't help but feel a little concerned about his fantasy of a different family - we wonder if he's not happy with us or something. After he mentioned his new dad today, I asked him if his new dad were cooler than I. Carver, still in story mode, said, "Yeah." I asked if his new dad were more handsome than I. He didn't even hesitate, "Yeah." Then he went on to talk about why his new dad is handsome. With a jovial smile and a bit of a chuckle, he explained "...he just has this shirt with a guy on it, and the guy is like, 'hey, what's goin' on here?'' He then laughed at the thought of such an hilarious shirt, and sighed. It looks like my wardrobe and I have some serious competition with Carver's imaginary dad.

Hakan is talking more and more. One of his favorite words this week is "No." He understands the power of it, too, because he often will throw whatever he is refusing as he says it. My favorite word of his right now is "bread." He, like most kids at this age, has a rough time with the letter "r," so it doesn't quite come out right. Instead, it sounds a lot more like, "blah." What's great is that he loves bread, so whenever we offer it, he gets really excited and shouts "Blah!" It's exquisitely adorable.

Avey has all sorts of plans for her birthday. She has a favorite meal of macaroni and cheese planned, along with three desserts. More than anything, though, she is looking forward to having visitors in a couple more weeks for her baptism. The fun never ends here.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Hakan, the Handful

We've had some big thunderstorms recently. Luckily, they are almost always at night, so I don't get caught in them on the drive home or anything. Because they happen at night, the flashing light and subsequent rumble of thunder have made quite the show a couple of times this week. The ironic thing is that the sound did not keep the children up, but it kept us adults up. Beyond that, the cruel thing is that the kids have gotten up other nights for no apparent reason. 
Hakan is in a special place developmentally. He is climbing on top of couches and beds, stomping around faster, and getting into interesting places. The downside of all of this is that he often finds new ways to get some bumps and bruises from his shortsighted escapades.  
Sampling the Bird Food
His high-energy brother is no help either. Carver is usually excellent at entertaining himself, but when he needs some extra stimulation, he likes to see what kind of reaction he can get out of his sister - and she never disappoints. The sobbing and screeching will echo throughout the house when they get together.

The strange contrast to all of this conflict happens sometimes when, for whatever reason, they decide to cooperate and play with one another. Carver can be a great buddy to Hakan, and Avey and Carver together have some of the best times. Naturally, Avey is a powerful entertainer to Hakan when he needs a good chasing. If only we could schedule their battles and treaties, we might manage a little better too.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Showing Off

It's been another busy week. Coming home from Colorado was a bit of a tease, because Kira was looking forward to having an extra pair of hands to help with the kids, and I was behind a couple of days on my work. We survived the week somehow, so maybe things will ease up this time. We've enjoyed cooler weather this week, and even had to turn on the heat this morning so our kids' feet wouldn't freeze. 
We had our first department party of the semester yesterday. It was mostly a welcome party for the new doctoral students in the program, but it was a nice chance to show off the kids and wife to my coworkers. 
We also had a fun time heading into the city afterwards. We ended up going to visit my office, where we were the only people on the floor. The kids had a grand time running through the halls and sifting through my drawers looking for candy. I keep a little stash of peanut butter cups as a reward for a hard day of work, and so that my kids enjoy coming to visit campus.

Carver started attending a weekly preschool thing put on by some church members. He enjoys doing some things out of the normal routine, and Kira is gearing up for when it's her turn to host.

There's always more news brewing here. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 6, 2015


I am presently sitting at my mother's kitchen table as I type this, for I am in Colorado. I broke away from the kiddos for a few days to be here as my youngest brother arrived home from Japan. It's been a great trip so far - my sister also came out, and brought one of my nephews with her, so it's been a little bit of a family reunion.

We spent the first day preparing for his arrival, and subsequent open house. I mowed the lawn while my sister and her roommate (who also made the trip) painted the window with a big "Welcome Home" sign.
That's sushi rolls on the bottom, a "Hello Kitty" missionary on the left, and the Japanese flag on the right.

It seemed to take forever for the evening to come, when Isaac's flight would arrive. Finally, we took off for the airport, saw that his flight had landed, and watched as person after person flowed out of the terminal. Just when it seemed like he was never coming, we spotted him. He was home!

He's been in good spirits (after a good night of sleep), and it's been fun hearing about all of the cultural differences and things he's seen. It's so nice to have been here for it.

Kira has been home with the kiddies the whole time, doing her best to keep up with their constant demands. Naturally, Hakan had come down with a cold just a few days before my trip, and Kira woke up with symptoms the morning I was to leave. It sounds like things have been hectic, but they are surviving. I wish I could have the rest of the week off when I get home Monday, but I'll have to head right back to work the next day.

Maybe one of these days we can get Kira away on a vacation while I wrestle the kids. Or maybe they will grow up and take care of themselves in a few years...

Sunday, August 30, 2015


[For some reason I'm having a lot of trouble getting videos on here this week. I'll keep trying, but may have to put them on another day.]
The first week of school is officially gone, and the verdict is... Avey loves it! Each day she came home and, when asked how school was, she replied, "Great!" She loves the new teacher, their library, and the fact that she gets a desk to herself instead of sharing a table. Her homework load has also decreased significantly from her previous school. They had her doing all sorts of busy work every night, but now she has less of that. In brief, she's thrilled.

My first week of students went well also. One of my courses is Forensic Science, and I am working on scheduling a tour of a forensic science facility in the area. That's turning out to be a big hassle, but if I can just get it to work I think it will be a great experience for everyone. This would be an easier semester, I think, if I didn't have a couple of deadlines coming up for my research. Add onto that the fact that I am chairing another student's dissertation and supervising a graduate research assistant, and I've got a lot to do. I need a couple of more weeks to get settled into the schedule and timing, and I'm sure it will all be okay.

Part of the pressure for everybody is a looming deadline this week. On Thursday, I fly back to Colorado for a very exciting reason - my youngest brother is coming back from an LDS mission to Japan! I haven't seen him in 2 years, so it will be great to reunite and hear all about his shenanigans. I wish the kids and Kira could come too, but flights were just too pricey.

Hakan has really been working on his words lately. He seems very focused on the sounds we make when we speak. He now says words like, "go," "car," "cat," and so on. He also tries really hard to say things like, "squirrel," and "banana." His latest obsession is Kix cereal. Just a moment ago, Kira put a plate of it down in front of him. He was holding a pen in one hand, and took a moment to decide how best to proceed. He then threw the pen to the floor so that he could shovel fistfuls of the cereal into his mouth. At the moment, his cheeks are stuffed with them like he's a chipmunk saving for winter. Good stuff.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

So Endeth Our Summer

Today marks the official last day of our summer break. Avey starts the 2nd grade tomorrow! She is really excited, and I think the boys are looking forward to having less competition for Mom's attention during the day. 
Looking back, we accomplished quite a lot over these past few months. We picked out a home, moved across the country, and got nearly all the way unpacked in just a few weeks.
Avey's Latest Pal, "Dolphinlania"
Carver, arguably, has made the most progress this summer, as he became potty trained. He has been accident-free for about two weeks now. A few days ago, I moped that nobody cheers for me when I finish using the water closet. Avey rolled her eyes and said, "Dad, you are 33. You were done with potty training like 20 years ago." Although Avey was right that I'd been through with it for a long while, I was a little insulted that she was 10 years short in her estimation.
I spent most of the week in meetings for my new job. I had new faculty orientation, a psychology department meeting, and I attended a convocation for the incoming students to kick off the new year. As a new faculty member, I was seated on the stage with a few others. It was pretty neat, and an exciting way to kick off the semester. I start teaching on Tuesday.

Hakan has been climbing like it's his job. Just this week he managed to get up on the couch by himself, and then made it onto Carver's bed. If he could be careful once he's up high, that would be one thing. But the kid loves to run about bounce and fall. It's a good thing my insurance kicks in soon...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Smells Like Fish

This week, our desperate attempt at sucking all of the enjoyment out of the summer landed us at a nearby fishing hole. It was actually a ton of fun for the kids. Kira offered to take them while I went in to the city to get some paperwork finished. There was a whole event at the pond, including a lady with a baby lemur for all the kids to admire and even pet. 
The kids had a blast playing at the park, learning about the lemur, and throwing sticks into the pond. I hurried to get my paperwork done, and then headed in to meet them there. 
I made it with just enough time before we had to turn in our poles, and managed to catch a little fish! It was a successful day, and turned out to be one of the kids' favorite activities since we've been here.
Avey has one more week before starting school, and so we are trying to do whatever we can to make the summer last. Unfortunately, I begin work tomorrow, so it will be more difficult for Kira to wrestle the kids and haul them around. I suppose the fun had to end some time, but there is still plenty in store for us.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Gentle Art of Elimination

The reader will recall that last week I left off with the news that Carver had successfully made it through his first half day of potty training. Kira and I were most excited at his progress last Sunday, and lifted our heads from our pillows Monday morning with high expectations. To our dismay, despite Carver's good mood and optimism, he had accident after accident throughout Monday. He finally found the potty in time just a little before bedtime, giving us cause to celebrate indeed, and perhaps renewing his resolve. After getting him to sleep, Kira and I were nervous about the rest of the week; we were unsure whether we could abide these constant messes and interruptions, especially with our explorer-in-the-making, Hakan, wandering about. 
We were thrilled when Carver's Tuesday was 100% accident-free! He was on top of it from first thing in the morning. Wednesday was just as successful, and by the end of Thursday it seemed that our diaper days were long since passed. Carver would go potty without us even knowing it was time. He would run in to report, and then help to tidy up.
As of this moment, he's had only one accident since Monday! He really proved he had it down on Friday, when the fates decided to put him to the test. Kira decided to take the two older kids for a little day trip to see the Indianapolis LDS Temple. It was about a 3-hour drive there, but they hit traffic on the way back, apparently due to some construction that had shut down a lot of the highway. The 3-hour trip turned into 5 hours on their way home. Fortunately, Carver managed to stay dry through each of the long parts of the trip. 
We are officially in the maintenance stage of his training. We need to get him focusing on night time now, but we are confident that he can get that mastered soon. He is a motivated boy!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Of Beasts and Bowels

Our big adventure of this week was a whole-day outing to the zoo! We packed up food, diapers, and sun block, and headed out on the 10-minute drive. We spent nearly the entire day checking out all of the awesome exhibits. The kids had a blast, as did Kira and I.
The zoo is much too big to see everything in one visit, and naturally the kids wanted to see the exhibits that were as far from each other as possible. We did our best to see as much as we could, but we have our work cut out for us next visit. 
In other (and arguably bigger) news, yesterday Carver was looking through the underwear we have waiting for him, and then announced that he is ready to start using the big-boy potty. We were excited to hear that, as we had been mentally preparing to finally focus on potty training this coming Monday. It's nice when things like that coincide. Kira told him that he could start after "church day" which he understood as right after getting home from church today. He had been thinking about it all day, and got right into his underwear once he came in the door. After sitting on the potty for maybe 15 minutes, he had his very first success! 

We are thrilled to have him make this developmental stride, and cannot wait to start changing fewer diapers between the boys. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Beach

Because we moved here weeks before I actually begin my job, we've had a lot of time on our hands. That was the plan, so that we could be sure to get all settled before the semester begins, but we've had to make a conscious effort to make sure that we still enjoy the summer as well. Yesterday, our big outing of the week was going to visit the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Chicago has plenty of places to get wet, and we heard about a spot that was sandy like the beaches we imagine in our heads, so we headed over. 
The weather was warm and humid. When we staked out our spot, we were aching to get into the water. Even the sand was scalding our pampered little toes. We quickly put on our sunblock, got into our swim diapers, and dashed over to the water.
The lake was like ice on our poor skin. It took me probably 15 minutes to ease in up to my waist, but after a while it was tolerable. Carver came in with me the most, getting about up to his chest into the water. The kids spent most of their time playing in the sand on the shore, and splashing as the waves came in. They enjoyed themselves thoroughly.
Kira was the gutsy one, and got completely under the water. She eventually peer pressured me into getting wet up to my neck.

It was a grand time, and we are excited to go again. Little other news aside from getting a few pictures hung and learning our way around a little more. We miss and love you all!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Big Plans

We are down to just the last few boxes to unpack, and almost everything has a place to "live", as Kira calls it. We still spend most of each day trying to keep the kids fed, rested, clean, and entertained, so at this rate I'm not sure I'll get to much more work before the semester starts up. Also, my mind is constantly racing with all sorts of projects I could do around the house. I have big plans, just not much budget, for some improvements. Perhaps next summer...

We have managed to find wonderful things to do. We have two great parks within walking distance of our home (three if you include Avey's school's). This week, we also attended a local carnival put on by the city. We happened to choose the hottest, most humid day of the festivities, and had about 90 minutes of fun before getting caught in an enormous downpour. That was just about right, though; it gave us a nice reason to move onto other things.
Among the many improvement projects I've been brainstorming, I've come up with a few that can be done on a small budget. Two of them involved giving a much needed coat of paint or two to some of Avey's furniture. She picked the colors and then helped me sand down a little bookshelf of hers and a wooden chair, both of which we inherited from other people. We then painted them and they look brand new now. 
Avey has made big plans for her room as well. For starters, she has decided, it seems, that her room should be entirely self sufficient for her needs. As such, she requested a small mirror to keep in her closet so that she can brush her hair and such in there. That's all well and good, but Kira and I politely put our feet down after Avey had taken our potty training chair into her room so that she can relieve herself without stepping out of her sanctuary. She'll take over the communal bathroom before long anyway, right?
She has also been obsessing over several appliances for her room. It began with the idea of a mini-fridge. We told her that she could work to earn the money for one (even though the family refrigerator is about 5 feet from her bedroom door), and so she's been talking now of earning money for a lava lamp, a shelf above her bed for her trinkets, and possibly even a soda machine. If she spent half of her planning and dreaming time actually doing the chores to earn the money, she'd have a whole stack of mini-fridges by now.

My goal for this next week is to get some pictures hung, instead of waiting 4 years like we did at our last place. Keep your fingers crossed...

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Windy City

We arrived safely at our new home last Saturday, and have been keeping very busy unpacking between all of the feedings and kids' naps. Luckily, the hardest part now is deciding where everything should go. We easily tripled (maybe quadrupled) our square footage with this place, so we are a little intimidated with all of the storage and open space. 

The worst part of all of this was the first couple of days, but not just because of the chaos. The temperature was fairly mild outside, but the humidity is new to us, so we felt like we were suffocating. We turned on the air conditioner for some relief only to be disappointed at its performance. We suffered through the night in the 80s, and the next day got it fixed, realizing that it was running low on refrigerant. Now all is well. We even had a few comfortable days with highs in the low 70s! This is quite the change from El Paso!
Kira had her birthday this last week also, which was overshadowed by all of our unpacking and a bit of a sore throat with which she came down. We were anxious to get out of all of the boxes and see some stuff, so we ventured out to the Taste of Chicago festival on Friday, and got to see a lot of the sights in the city. There was even a huge public park nearby that had opened only last year - it was easily the highlight of the trip for the kids. They would have gone down the slides until they passed out, if we'd have let them.
We are very excited about the new place! Everything is blindingly green compared to our old neighborhood, and we are overrun with wildlife. For the first couple of days we would call to each other to come quickly when there was a rabbit in the yard, but now they come by so often we hardly give a second glance. We get a visit from a red cardinal about once a day, sometimes accompanied by a female, which is a real treat. Its song is particularly enjoyable. Among our favorites is what comes out at dusk - fireflies! I have fond memories of our time in Nebraska when I was a boy, chasing fireflies out in the yard. Avey is having lots of fun checking them out in her own front yard these days.
With as much fun as we're having, we do feel a bit lonely, especially today. Normally on Sundays, we have dinner with family, but alas, today we are left to our own devices. We'll need to convince some of our loved ones to come visit us very soon before we go mad. 
Come visit us!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Before the Trek

Today was another whirlwind day, as we made our final preparations for the move. A series of unfortunate events resulted in Hakan accompanying me on a 30-minute drive to New Mexico to retrieve our moving truck a day early. Luckily, they gave an extra day at no charge. Once we arrived at the place, everything was going well until the gentleman behind the counter disclosed to us that the carriage for my personal vehicle was not going to be available until the following day at another New Mexico location. That meant that I had to leave my personal vehicle at the store, bring home the moving vehicle, load the truck the next day, and hope that we had enough time to still drive the thing to pick up the auto transporter. To make matters a little more interesting, the gentleman returned from the inspection of the truck to inform me that the vehicle had a bald tire, so I could not use it. He offered me the next-closest size to the one I ordered, and it came with an additional 6 feet. The extra space is nice, but the thing gets more difficult to drive as it grows in length. As an added bonus, one of the dashboard lights came on as I was driving the truck home.

The silver lining to all of this was that I was able to load our things that were in storage (my grandmother's shed) a night earlier than I expected, giving us ample time to load the truck on the day we had planned. With some excellent help from family and friends, we had our kiddies supervised, the truck loaded, and the apartment clean in almost no time. I was able to get the vehicle transport with no difficulty, and Kira and I had a fun time finishing the last few chores before my dear grandparents treated us to breakfast for dinner at their house. And the dashboard light turned out to be no big deal - the truck was just about a gallon short of coolant, which is easily fixable.
All things considered, today was a very smooth day. We will forever be indebted to my wonderful family here, for all of their detailed consideration for our comfort. My aunt and uncle not only babysat the kids and helped load the truck, but also treated us to a spectacular Sunday dinner, and then loaned us their air mattresses to sleep on for our last night in the apartment. We had a cleaning crew that would put professionals to shame, so the place looks like a palace now. It's a little annoying that this is the cleanest it's been in 4 years, but we won't get to enjoy it.

We are excited to begin our new adventure, but very saddened to leave the family and friends here. After dinner at Grandma's this evening, Avey sobbed and sobbed the whole way home at the thought of leaving. I'm grateful that she has so many wonderful memories of El Paso, and the people here, and I'm glad that I got to become more familiar with the city where I lived as a young boy.

Tomorrow begins our trek. Wish us luck! The next post will be from Illinois!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Can't Blog...Packing

Hey all,
Sorry I can't write a post today. I'm way to busy getting ready to load the truck tomorrow for our move. I have quite the mess to write about, but no time at the moment. Please stay tuned and maybe I can get some written before Friday.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day Tribute-By Kira

My annual blog post on Father's Day might all start looking the same, but here goes:
This year I have a deeper gratitude for my own father, as he was diagnosed with cancer, and the fragile nature of life was brought close to home. My dad is very actively fighting the cancer, and I am proud of him. I am also proud to call him my dad as I reflect on how the "old dog" that he is, really has learned "new tricks" in the last 5-10 years. I have seen positive growth and change in my dad's management and expression of feelings-the good and the bad (I know, here goes the therapist talking). I'm grateful for all he did to teach and love me as a child, and for his support, example of positive growth, and continued love for me as an adult. I love you dad!
Then there's Eli-the nearly perfect man. My better half that brings balance, humor, novelty, good music, learning, play time, but also productivity into our family. Truly, Avey, Carver, and Hakan are blessed and lucky to have Eli as their superhero, "Dr. Dad", and "Professor Poopy Pants", as we like to call him. I am VERY proud of his consistent, HARD work, and dedication to sticking it out as a student into his 30's with 3 kids in tow, to become a PhD! I am grateful for his patience, kindness, endless games, and constant helping hand with the kids. I am a little baffled but grateful that he puts up with me, despite my shortcomings. And, I am excited to begin our next adventures in Illinois together! I love you Eli!

Unconscious Weight

Tuesday was my last day on campus (although I had to head back on Thursday for a brief meeting), after which I have been trying to concentrate each moment on getting our crap in boxes. Packing while also trying to keep up with feeding the children is already challenging, but most especially when Daddy at home means playtime. Carver wants to play games the whole time I am trying to pack, and so I end up juggling the two and making very little progress. My most productive windows are when Kira takes the children to visit somebody they want to see before we leave, and then when the children are sleeping. 

The poor kids also need outings every day (lest they turn to eating each other alive), which is yet another burden on the schedule. We've tried to combine the outings with the errands we need done, and that usually works. For example, we were running out of packing tape, and needed a few groceries earlier this week. We made a quick stop at the library, and then visited our local Target. By the time we pulled into the parking lot, Carver was on the edge of a deep slumber (he's been hit-and-miss with naps for several weeks now, needing a nap too late in the day to make it a good idea, or he won't go to bed until very late). I picked him up and carried him through the store, and he slept on me the whole time. 
"What are we feeding this boy?"
My arm is still sore. Checkout was the most difficult part, but luckily he awoke as I was trying to reach for my wallet. 

With Avey out of school, and everybody sorting through all of our possessions, Avey and Carver have been finding new ways to entertain themselves. One of them has involved the dress-up tote. We've slowly accumulated all manner of costumes and props over the years, and the children have rediscovered their wonder. Avey has been a mermaid, a superhero, and a bride, among others. Carver has come up with all sorts of interesting combinations, but my favorite is this one:

He's some kind of scary little demon, apparently, donning a mask from his uncle Isaac in Japan, a Batman costume from his cousins in Utah, and a black cape from somewhere we can't remember.
This time next week we will be in full panic mode, loading up the truck the next day. If you are in the neighborhood and have a good back and a few muscles, please stop by!

Sunday, June 14, 2015


As Carver continues to master the English language, he also makes some funny mistakes. Lately, he's said "actually" about once every other sentence. Sometimes he'll use it three times in a single sentence, making for some interesting sentence structure. 

For the last several weeks, Carver has been using some hybrid of the words we use to present him with options. We will say something like, "Carver, would you like to have a bath, or would you like to eat some food instead?" Carver has come to merge these words into "orstead." Most often, he uses this novel word when he is angry. For example, it may be time for bed and he'll say, in a very whiny voice, "No! I don't want to go to bed! I just want to play games orstead!" Lucky for him, it's so cute to hear him use the word that we just chuckle rather than becoming angry with his obstinate attitude. 
Hakan and the Dog Looking at Each Other
As far as news, we've got very little that is worth documenting, it seems. I've been preparing the courses I'll teach in the Fall, and packing a few boxes here and there when I get a little hiccough of energy. Avey and I are taking advantage of the heat here in Texas by going to the pool about every other day to do swimming lessons. She opted not to take a class, but agreed to take orders from me. We're having a grand time, and she's getting braver each day. I'm sure she'll be swimming circles around me in no time. 
We are getting more excited than ever to move. The more we pack up, the more we realize how little space we have. We moved into our current place with only 3 of us, and now we somehow increased our numbers to 5. We catch ourselves daydreaming about having more space in our new home in Illinois. It sure will be nice to have the place feel empty orstead of having it feel like a fire hazard!

Sunday, June 7, 2015


We had a week full of lasts. Avey's last violin recital of the year was on Wednesday. We are very impressed with the progress they've made just since the beginning of the school year. Avey put on another little show this afternoon at her Great Grandmother's house. Her new school does not have orchestra until the Fourth Grade, so we may need to get her some private lessons in the meantime. 

It was also Avey's last week of school! I don't know whose excitement is greater; hers for the hours of free time, or mine for not having to make her lunches anymore! She got to say goodbye to her school chums, and missed the chance to see her favorite teacher (from Kindergarten), but went back on Saturday (a teacher work day) to visit with her for a long time. Friday afternoon we went to a pool party put on by some friends of ours, and all had a very good time punctuating the end of Avey's school experience in El Paso. 

Kira went to her last Relief Society activity, visited the Juarez Temple for the last time, and she and Avey also went to their first and last outdoor movie at UTEP. They were showing the new Cinderella movie on the track field, but it started so late and was so well attended, that it was a bit more hassle than it was worth. Luckily, Avey had fun.
For this week's little gem, I recall an incident midweek. We've been working on helping Carver to blow his nose, and so we've come up with the terminology "chunk" for what he often finds up there. We were driving somewhere when Kira noticed Carver's finger searching for something in his nose. He then pulled out a "chunk" and Kira asked him, "Did you get it?" Carver replied, "Yep, I got it. I didn't eat it!" We celebrate the small successes in this family, as well as the big ones. 

We officially have the house squared away and waiting for us in the Chicago area. Now all we have to do is pack the remainder of our worldly possessions, load them snugly into a truck, drive them all out to Illinois, and unpack them again. We are not looking forward to the trip, but we are ecstatic to move into our new home and begin a new adventure!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Place to Call "Home"

We had another eventful week, full of fun and surprises. What was not a surprise was Hakan's First Birthday! We split up the joy so that family visiting for my graduation could also participate, and then we had a much smaller celebration once the real day came. Hakan did not seem to understand what all was going on, but he was very happy as usual. He sure is acting like a 1-year-old. He's walking around more often, trying finger foods, and he understands more words. We sure do love that boy!
We also signed the lease for our Chicago home! It was Kira's first choice out of all the places she saw on her trip, and it was also her favorite school. We are very excited, and go to bed with visions of the big yard, kitchen, and overall extra space. We are putting together our moving plan, and hope to go through Colorado for a brief visit. It turns out that that route adds only a few hours to the trip! 
Carver's dear great aunt recently gave him a Lego airplane, which he has absolutely adored. In the course of playing with it earlier this week, he hit his head with it. Hearing his cry of pain, I asked what happened, and when he told me that the airplane hit his head, I asked if we should put the plane in a time out (a common fate for offenders in our home). Carver didn't like that idea. I asked him if we should paddle the plane's bum as punishment. Carver gave me a look and said, "Dad, it doesn't have a bum - it just has a tail." I suggested, "Should we have the plane tell Carver 'sorry'?" Carver explained to me that "it doesn't talk - it's just a [sic] airplane." Then, pointing to the little pilot figure in the cockpit, he says, "This guy says sorry, but he can't hear you. He has to get out." After taking apart the plane so that the pilot could hear us, we requested an apology from the plastic figure. Carver's doing much better now.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Single Parent

Thursday morning, Kira left on a flight to Chicago to scope out places for us to live in the very near future. That left me at home with three adorable and needy children. Day 1 was particularly challenging as Hakan's doctor called and asked me to bring him in that day. He was concerned about Hakan's lack of weight gain (he's quite small for his age). We were also concerned about his weight, although not quite as much as was the doctor. Hakan went through a sick spell, so we just sort of figured that had set him back a bit. He is cognitively advanced and his motor skills are even more advanced than were his siblings' at this age, so we had no other worries and just figured that he'd catch up with his weight in good time. 
At the doctor's, we found that he had gained pretty good weight since his last check, but was still a bit too small for comfort. The doctor suggested a blood test to rule out any serious conditions. We had tried that a few weeks before, but they were not able to get any blood, so we'd just sort of put it aside until he called again. This time he suggested taking Hakan to the hospital, where they are better at drawing blood from small children. That took us across town, which turned out okay, because Hakan slept on the drive. I fed him a meal in the waiting area, and then he had his blood taken (results came back - he is just fine).
In addition to all of the hospital stuff, we discovered a slow water leak all over our floor the day previous. Maintenance came to check it out Thursday, and after putting three holes in the wall, found and repaired the leak. I didn't have to do any of the work, but it added to the general chaos of the day.
Friday was a pretty easy day as Avey went to school and the boys and I went to get some baby wipes at the store, joined a little impromptu celebration at my grandmother's house to open my cousin's mission call (California Riverside), and then enjoyed a trip to our favorite frozen yogurt joint.
Carver and Batbear Have a Heart-to-Heart
Saturday morning is where it all came crashing down around me. In retrospect, I should have realized that trouble was in store after Hakan went to bed so easily. He awoke at 3:10 a.m., pining for nourishment. I must have completed a sleep cycle around then, because I felt pretty awake once he got me up. I gave him a bottle and he passed back out, but then I lay awake for a while. I drifted off around 4, and then who should come crashing into the room at 5, but Carver. I got him planted in front of the television with a little snack and tried to salvage what I could of the night. At 6, Carver again woke me, requesting that I join him. Apparently he was lonely. At this point, I was feeling extremely groggy and grumpy. I comforted him as best I could and told him that Avey would surely be joining him soon. He lasted another half hour and then woke me complaining of technical difficulties with his show. I gave up and rolled out of bed, feeling awful the rest of the day.
Goldilocks Eats Baby Bear's Porridge
Last night was better, but Hakan awoke with his right eye sealed shut from dried discharge. It is slightly red and swollen, but the eye itself seems fine and he does not appear to be in any pain. I'm keeping a close watch on it for now, and once nurse Mommy gets home this afternoon we will determine the course of action.

I certainly am emerging from this weekend with a few psychological battle scars and more respect for what Kira deals with each time I had to head off to a conference or job interview this last year.

She reportedly found a great place and already turned in our application, so once we have more information we will pass it on! We are very excited to begin a new chapter in our lives, and have another adventure!