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.