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

Homeleaving

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...