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!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Ph.D.

Yesterday we all had a grand celebration as we marked the end of my formal education (finally). It was the commencement event where my doctoral degree was conferred upon me, thus making me officially Elijah P. Ricks, Ph.D.

It has been quite the journey, and I'm glad to have had so many strong supporters and inspiring people throughout my life, including my parents, Kira, our children, family in El Paso, and so many excellent teachers. We were thrilled to have so many come to celebrate with us this week - we wish only that we could have had more time with them each.
I do feel relieved at times to be done, but those moments are pretty brief as I remember all we have to do during the summer. Kira leaves this week to scope out dwellings, while I hold down the fort with the wee ones. Depending on her success, we will have anywhere between 2 to 8 weeks to get all of our junk to Chicago so that I can begin my new job as an assistant professor of psychology. Hearing people call me "doctor" still sounds weird too. I keep thinking some guy in a black suit is going to run up to me and take away my degree, because I still feel like I have so much to learn. I suppose that's a good thing.
Hakan has been purposefully walking more on his own, so we are pretty sure that he will be strutting around the place with confidence about the time his first birthday comes along. Carver has been struggling with naps recently: he is transitioning away from naps, but he still needs one by the late afternoon. However, by then it is so late that if he does nap he will be up until all hours of the night, so we usually count on him passing out in the car for a few minutes, just enough to help him last until bedtime without screaming at us about everything. Avey is getting excited for the end of her school year.

Moving adventures to come (ugh).

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mom Day!

And thus we celebrate another Mother's Day. Avey has been psyched about today for a while now, as she has been preparing all sorts of small, thoughtful gifts for Kira. They are hidden throughout the apartment as I type this. Carver halfheartedly scribbled a few pages of a Mother's Day coloring book. Hakan has no clue what's going on. I suppose that the positive side is that the boys will come to appreciate their mother more and more as they grow. Our appreciation for our mothers grows each year as we better understand what they did for us. How my mother managed six of us is nothing short of astounding! 
This week was another busy one. The highlight was Avey's school show. They did a musical called "Character Matters". It's a delightful and witty piece with some catchy tunes. Avey had four parts, including her main role as Goldilocks. No offense to the other kids, but Avey was easily the best one on stage; she was loud and clear, hit her notes, knew her lines, and her acting was from the heart. It was so much fun to watch her.
Kira had a particularly busy week too. A former client contacted her and requested to meet with her at least twice. That turned out to be quite the ordeal with preparation and some of the scheduling, but it is all over now. Kira may not want to get back to work too quickly once we're in Illinois. She needs a full time secretary to make it all worth it! Maybe Avey can work for her...
Hakan really got into finger foods this week. He started mowing down little cereal crumbs on his tray, and spends half of his play time searching the floor for tiny morsels that his siblings have let fall from their meals. He's now up to 6 teeth poked through, so he must be looking for things to use them on. 

Graduation is next Saturday, so we're looking forward to having about half of my family in town, and even Kira's parents! It will be fun to show the kiddies off again!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Graduand

Arguably, the biggest news of this week is regarding Wednesday; I successfully defended my dissertation. That means that I have completed all of the University's requirements for my Ph.D. All that remains is for the semester to finish so that the degree can actually be conferred. My committee was very complimentary of the project and the document, and had only minor requests to add to it before I submit it to the University. I'll hopefully knock that out this week and have smooth sailing into the summer. I'm not going to lie - it's a pretty nice feeling. The night of the defense was a bit weird, though. I thought I would feel relieved and satisfied, but mostly I just felt odd. I think it was mostly due to the fact that I'd been working on this project for about 2 years, and all of it was building to this 2-hour thing: all of that work ending in a fizzle. I felt much better the next morning, though, and I'm sure the actual graduation in a couple of weeks will help to bring that closure.

We had some other accomplishments this week too. After the defense, we finally felt like we could manage to do something drastic to get Carver weened off of his pacifier. We've come close before, but the timing was always so terrible; he would get sick or something so we didn't want to make the whole thing more traumatic than it had to be. Anyway, we decided that we would prepare him mentally for the "detox". We told him that we would go to Build-a-Bear and let him pick out a very special friend to hug and hold when he needed comfort. Then we would say "goodbye" to the binky forever.

He was excited about the bear, and chose a Batman-themed friend, whom he named "Batbear". They instantly became best friends:
The moment of truth came that night. Carver initially lay down calmly with his new friend, and then about the time he was about to fall asleep, he called out for us and explained that he wanted his pacifier. We explained that the pacifier was gone now, and that it would be hard for a few nights, but that he could hold his bear to feel better. He did fall asleep after a lot of sobbing, and then got up a few more times during the night, but we hope that last night was the worst of it. I can't blame the little man - he has gone to sleep sucking on a pacifier literally every night of his life. We are now in unfamiliar territory. 

Hopefully each night will get a little easier until he can sleep peacefully on his own. Of course he had to choose a bear with a character that is notoriously nocturnal...