Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas 2016

Merry Christmas to all! It's been a mixed bag for us. We started out our trip by experimenting with driving through the night. This is the tried and true method that Kira's brother uses - it offers the advantages of less traffic, and sleeping children, which also means fewer bathroom and food stops. What could go wrong?

We left at 8:00 p.m. and I drove until around 1:00 a.m. The first thing that did not go according to plan was that the children did not sleep right away all snuggled up in their blankets and jammies. Instead, they were wide awake with excitement until about midnight. That was a big problem because Kira needed to be sleeping so that she could take over the operation of keeping our several-hundred-pound vehicle on the road while traveling at 70 mph. Instead, she was busy handing out snacks; informing the children that no, we were not almost there; and all the other things it takes to occupy such young minds when they are forced to hold still for any amount of time.
Picture of Avey Next to Merritt. Virtually Indistinguishable
Kira did take over for a few hours, but I have never been very good at sleeping in moving vehicles. I suppose I can't quite relax. I dozed off for maybe 5 or 10 minutes, and then was up. I took over for Kira and we both went back and forth struggling to catch a few minutes of sleep while also tending to the children's every whim.
Carver, Who Refused a Nap Just 30 Minutes Before This Photo
Finally, while Kira was napping I simply couldn't handle it any more and had to pull over for a few winks while the children watched a movie. That was a smart move, as it probably is what made it possible to finish the trip. We arrived around 1:00 p.m., feeling relieved and defeated at the same time. We are still recovering from it, so we may need to make some major adjustments to this scheme if we are to try it again, beginning with much better naps for both of us before pulling out of the driveway.
Hakan as The Angel
Still, the trip has been entirely worth it. The kids have had a blast with each other and their cousins. Avey took a shining to origami, and spent almost all of Christmas Eve doing various projects with the ancient art of folding paper. She really seems to have a skill for it. Hakan has been particularly interested in my brother's dog who accompanied them. Merritt is just glad to have so many new fans, and a huge space to explore. Carver mostly just wants to play the retro video game consoles at my mother's house.
Christmas itself has been a bizarre day of ups and downs. It began with the boys waking me at 4:30 a.m. The way the sleeping arrangements have worked out, I struggled greatly to keep them from waking every other person in the house. I finally ended up showering them and then feeding them, but never did get back to bed myself. We were scheduled to get to my mother's (we are sleeping at Kira's parents' home) for present unwrapping at 7. It was an epic event of giving and receiving, and we all left most satisfied with both.

By the time it was over our boys were exhausted, Avey and Kira had not eaten a thing, and we had but 30 minutes to get ourselves dressed for a choir performance at church. Hakan was the most defiant I have ever seen, kicking and screaming so that he had to finally be forced into his clothes, after which he kicked off his shoes and socks so that we had to take him in the car barefooted. It came as little surprise when he fell asleep in his aunt's arms during the service. Carver, too, zonked out right there on the pew in the front row. Even little Merritt, after giving the ever-patient Avey a run for her money, passed out among the forte of the choir and organ.

It seems this year the gift we need more than anything is some uninterrupted sleep. Still, we would give up a few more hours if it meant that much more time among our beloved families. We are so lucky to come from such wonderful families, where we know that we are welcome and loved. As we charge into 2017 with full fury, we reflect on our fortunate circumstances and all of the joy that surrounds us, even when it is sometimes hard to see for all the poopy diapers and screaming. I, for one, would not trade it for the world.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Merritt Moves

The day has officially arrived: Merritt can crawl.

He seemed so close for so long that it should not seem this novel to us, but we feel wholly unprepared for this development. It is probably not so much that he can crawl, but the fact that now he is also trying to climb up things to which he can get.
Now, our filthy floor seems even filthier to us, and the hard edges on all of our surfaces seem jagged. He has not had any major tumbles yet, but as he branches out and dares to do more feats, we are sure to have some episodes. He has thus far pulled himself to a standing position at the couch, a toy castle we have, a child-sized red table, and our kitchen chairs. As we depart for Colorado next week and he has free reign over two other homes, he's certainly going to enjoy his newfound mobility.
The unfortunate part of the week is that Carver has really come down with something. His throat has hurt quite a bit for the last few days, but he came down with a fever last night. Yesterday seems to have been the worst of it, although who knows? The last time we thought he was just about on the mend, he came down with pneumonia. We are keeping a close eye on him, and hope to have him back to his old self soon. With the way these things go, the other five of us will come down with it a couple of hours into our road trip so that we can pass it on to the cousins...

I finished all of my grading for the semester, so that is a nice load off of my back. Still, next semester is beginning to look foreboding: I will be preparing a new course, teaching two of my normal courses, and have two independent study students (with a third trying to stir something up). I am going to try to enjoy a little time off, and especially avoid the commute.

Avey is looking forward to her winter break as well. She put on two shows at her school over the last several days; one was with orchestra, and the other was with her normal music class. We would have enjoyed them more, but we had to wrestle Hakan into holding still so he wouldn't steal the show.

Hakan is still working on his independence, but he does seem to have calmed a bit. Avey and he have become better (and loud) friends while Carver's been out of commission. Perhaps that will continue even after he gets better.

If you did not receive our family Christmas letter today in your email account, then I do not have your most current address. If you would like to rectify that, please contact me!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Christmas Demon

This was my final week of classes, so I have been feeling pretty good with only some grading left to do. I took off part of Friday to finish up some Christmas shopping and to get the kids out of the house. My idea was to have the kids shop for each other in the Christmas spirit, but that quickly imploded at the sight of toys. 

Avey had already been thinking about what to get for her brothers, so she got her stuff done quickly. Hakan is a little too young to follow the logic behind it - buy a toy for someone else? - so I had high hopes for Carver. He, however, disappointed also, as he was far too tired to think about getting anything for anyone other than himself. 

Maybe in another year or two...
The other big news of the week is that Hakan is possessed by some demon. At least, that's our best explanation for what has been going on. He is more oppositional than any child who's been through this age. I don't mean just of our kids either, but of the entire human race. He purposefully resisted us for nap and bed time yesterday, screaming like a banshee so that the whole neighborhood could hear. He becomes furious if we make a single move that accomplishes anything he could do himself, and so we have to undo it and start all over again. This could be zipping up his coat, buckling his seat belt, opening the fridge, and a million other things. We are now constantly on edge for fear that we will set off his hair trigger. On top of it all, he has been wailing on Carver for no apparent reason. If he gets the idea, he will just chuck whatever he can find at Carver, even when Carver is minding his own business. He will run him down and then just start punching him sometimes too. Carver, thankfully, has been very patient and almost never reacts in kind, but his charity is wearing thin.

We keep thinking that Hakan has molars trying to surface, so that's the reason he's been acting so grumpy. But when he insists that his mouth does not hurt, I start to wonder what's gotten into him.

Luckily, he was more than willing to take his nap this morning, so maybe he's exorcising whatever is causing the problem, but I'm still on high alert after the horrors I've seen.

There was a lot of snow overnight, so the kids went out and got covered in it first thing this morning. We hope the roads are okay for our upcoming trip!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Of Ice and Phlegm

We were excited to be visited, albeit briefly, by Kira's brother and his family midweek. I met them in Chicago near my office for lunch, and then they headed to our house to spend some time with Kira. I had a meeting and then went home to chat with them too before they had to head back to Indiana where they were staying for the night. They and we have eight kids between us, so it was loud and fun to have all of the cousins play together. Perhaps someday we will be closer together and can manage more good times like that. 

We were also visited early in the week by the sickness fairy. Kira had a rough couple of days with sore throat, chills, aches, and severe headaches, but fortunately felt much better by the time I came down with it. Merritt seems to have had it in its mildest form, but somehow has still managed to get and stay awake at night, much to our dismay. Avey and Carver have remained thus far unscathed, but we shall see what the next few days have in store for them. 

Poor Hakan may have had two things at once. After Kira had a particularly rough night with Merritt, I got up with Hakan at 4:30 a.m. to find his pillow quite wet. I thought perhaps it was just spillage from his water bottle, so I let him get up so as to avoid his waking Carver. I got him set in front of a show with some graham crackers and tried to go back to sleep for a little while. I was disrupted yet again when Hakan's body rejected the graham crackers all over the couch (covered with a blanket for just such instances, thankfully). I got that cleaned up and then went back to sleep, thinking perhaps he had just coughed enough to have gagged it up. Hakan came in to wake me about 20 minutes later, losing his crackers all over the carpet this time. By then, it was clear that he had some real stomach issue going on. I gave up my hope for more sleep, bathed him, washed all of his sheets, scrubbed the carpet, and got myself ready to leave for work. Luckily, no one else has had stomach problems so far, and Hakan was able to keep food down by the end of the day.

On a happier note, we were also visited by winter today. It has been a bizarre season for Illinois as this is the first snow, and it's already December 4th. The kids are beside themselves with glee. Carver and Avey dashed out to explore this morning and had to be dragged back in to get dressed for church.
I am not looking forward to the bike ride to the train station tomorrow, but I am glad that the kids have something new to do. This is all starting to get us into a Christmas mood. We've got the house decked out, and most of my shopping is done. Now we play the waiting game. This will be my last week of classes, and then come finals. It will be nice to have a winter break to try to catch up on some things, and most especially to visit Colorado, if only briefly.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cranksgiving

With the days off of work and school this week, we decided to take advantage and get family pictures. Like last time, we scheduled it for a weekday, in the afternoon so that we could work in naps and such. We somehow still managed to show up late, but we went right in. Getting four kids to smile at the same time is about as challenging as herding cats, so I imagine. We got some pretty decent photos, and managed to survive the rest of the trip. Although I can't share the professional photos here, I took some this morning of our handsome oldest boys:
Thanksgiving was somehow very stressful even though we were not cooking our own meal. We had been invited to some acquaintances, and I agreed to make a blueberry pie and some potato rolls. It was my first time baking the rolls from scratch, so I ran into a couple of roadblocks, forcing me to take two last-minute trips to the grocery store. In the end, they turned out alright, and I learned a lot for next time. The pie was pretty good, at least.
We have otherwise been preparing the house for when Kira's brother and his family drop by on their tour of the surrounding states. We expected them today, but the fates decided to make them available to watch someone's kids while their mother had a baby, so we will see them later on in the week. That was nice to have a few extra days to prepare, but sad that Avey and I will be at school and work (respectively) when they are here. 
We were all very excited to deck out the house with Christmas decorations. Avey and Carver had all sorts of fun trimming the tree. Hakan is too young to remember either of his previous Christmases, so he is relearning what all goes into it. We are looking forward to seeing family soon, and are a little excited for some snow.

Until next time, we'll try to stay warm. You do the same.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

"Wuh, wuh, Enunciation"

As a two-year-old, Hakan is learning to do many things. One of these things is using new words. Because he sometimes struggles to pronounce the subtle phonemes of his native language, we often give him tips. A while back, we tried to help him understand a word that begins with the "w" sound. We emphasized the sound by stating, "Wuh, wuh, water," (or whatever the word was). Hakan caught on, and now uses our tip all the time for help with pronouncing other words. For example, "Wuh, wuh, dinosaur," or "wuh, wuh, pancake," and so on. Although he clearly misunderstood the purpose of our little tip, at least he remembers and uses it. 
Merritt is getting more mobile with each day. He rolls around back and forth until he works his way to a new part of the floor, and just in the last two days he's been scooting on his behind to move forward just a bit at a time. He's a pro at sitting up unassisted now, remaining perpetually propped up for as long as he desires. We are nowhere near prepared for him to have free reign over the house (we've never had this much square footage with a mobile infant), so we are a little nervous as he spreads his wings wider, as it were.
Carver has been attending a preschool for a few weeks now, twice a week. We are trying to prepare him for school next year and trying to give Hakan and Kira a break from him every now and then. He is still so picky about his foods and so finicky about napping that we worry a little that he'll be hungry and tired at school, thus making him a terror to his teacher and classmates. On the other hand, maybe he'll succumb to peer pressure when seeing his classmates eating their food, and he'll join the ranks.
Avey is looking forward to the school break this week, as am I. She's been working on various projects at home, including comic strips with different takes on the Star Wars® universe. We are constantly amazed at how creative she is in both art and writing. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, she took it upon herself to write, design, and create a texture book about animals. She gathered all manner of household objects and treasures from outside and then affixed them to pages she had drawn and colored so that her little brothers could touch the objects and learn about the corresponding animal. For example, she made one page about a snake, and searched high and low for an appropriate texture until settling upon the fabric of an old lawn chair. Under our supervision, she cut it out and then taped it onto her book page, filling in the rest with a scene of a snake out in nature. She's sure to publish a book or dozen someday.

Kira met with the therapist from whom she'll be subleasing an office, and got that all squared away. She had a client all set up for last Monday, but when she had to postpone due to an awful migraine, the gentleman made some delays of his own. We hope to have her set up with clients soon.

The big news of my week was that my grad student had a project accepted for a national conference in March, and I had a solo paper accepted at the same one! I've been trying to get this paper up and running for some time now, but keep running into other projects. We'll see how it's received and maybe that will give me the motivation to focus on it.

We're excited for Thanksgiving this year, although we are sad to be so far away from family. We've been invited by some acquaintances of Kira, so it looks like I've got a pie and some rolls to bake. Either way, we'll get stuffed. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Dependence

Hakan is the oldest 2-year-old I've ever met. Compared to his older siblings at this age, he does far more by himself, and is more adventurous. He brushes his own teeth, dresses himself, showers rather than bathes, embraces new foods that Carver would never dream of trying, and engages in pretend play more than did his older siblings at this age. 

We figure that witnessing his older siblings' independence inspires him to strive for the same, so he challenges himself, and models their behavior to overcome fear and doubt. His efforts to be his own man are mostly very nice for us parents, but have proven difficult as his vigor outgrows his ability.
Over the last few weeks, he wants to do literally everything by himself. Although that is not so bad, what is is the fact that he adamantly refuses any form of assistance. For example, earlier in the week it was time to get ready for bed. He usually puts on his pajamas with little to no assistance from us; he just takes a little longer and has a 50% chance of getting them on backwards. This time, however, one of the sleeves to the shirt was inside-out. Normally, he would let us turn it right-side-out before commencing to dress himself. This time was not normal. 

He fiercely insisted on getting it right himself. He would try something, then scream and cry when it wouldn't work. I offered assistance, to which he reacted with the fury of a rabid wolverine. He tried again to right the sleeve, with the same frustrating result. I tried to subtly correct where he was holding it so that he could fix the problem by himself, and he reacted as would a hand grenade whose pin had been pulled. 

In another particularly explosive incident, he refused to undress himself for bed, so we were left to do it ourselves, which resulted in flashover. We had him in pajamas, screaming at us like a scene out of the Exorcist, until it became clear that yet another approach needed to be tried. He eventually agreed to let me dress him back into his clothes on the sole condition that he be the one to undress himself, with nary a hint of assistance from another living soul. The dust eventually settled, and the beast slumbered.
His delusions of ability are sometimes entertaining, though. Just a couple of days ago, he carried a little bag of carrots to the table, then gloated like he had lifted a Buick over his head. "I'm awesome!" he exclaimed. "I'm strong like a superhero!" he declared. And then, running off to his room to complete the image, "I need my cape!"

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Gnarly November

Does that count as alliteration? 

The week began with a bang on Halloween. As I was driving home from work (my satellite office = the library), I noticed all manner of terrifying toddler and petrifying pre-teen scurrying about the neighborhoods door to door, offering to bypass the home without incident in exchange for a tasty sweet.
When I got home, I informed the children that it seemed everyone was already out, so they had better get in their costumes before all the good stuff was taken. The boys switched up their costumes, and Avey stuck with her variation on the Princess Leia. 
Merritt stayed home and kept me company while I manned the front door to ward off the little demons, and tried to squeeze in a few more minutes of work. Kira took off with the kids to get far more candy than we could/should consume over the next year. Hakan needed to go to sleep, so we tried to get him to bed quickly before the older kids went back out for the night, but he caught on and threw one of the biggest fits of his life. It was no doubt fueled by his exhaustion. We were eventually able to calm him down and get him to bed.
We were otherwise troubled by Merritt's sleep disturbance in the early week. He continues to get up one to three times at night. That wore us out all week, but thankfully, he slept through the night last night.

Wednesday was a fun and historic night as we watched the Cubs win the World Series for the first time since 1908. The game was especially exciting after the Cubs led nearly the entire game only to have the Indians tie it up in the last few innings. That took it to a 10th inning (a very rare occurrence in game 7 of the World Series), and then they finally clinched it!

I made it through the 9th inning, but with Thursdays being my long and early day, I had to call it a night. Kira was up with Merritt until the end of the game, and told me what happened when we were both awoken by Merritt in the wee hours of the morning.
We spent part of Friday raking up the leaves into a nice pile so that the kids could roll around in it. They had a grand time, and we got some nice pictures. Merritt even enjoyed himself, sitting and ripping fistfuls of leaves, and sampling the flavors of each shade of leaf. 
Avey and I enjoyed a daddy-daughter date yesterday when we went to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It was an enjoyable time, although Avey got worn out after a while. 

We also spent part of Saturday preparing for and celebrating my upcoming birthday. Kira made a doughnut run for breakfast, and then we enjoyed a pizza dinner (thanks to a generous cash gift), and a variation on Boston Cream Pie that my family enjoys. 

This upcoming week, we expect to witness the nation elect one of the worst human beings ever to seek the office of the President. If we survive it, perhaps there will be another post in a week. What a strange time to be alive...

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Reflections of Real Life

Hakan has been into imaginary games using toy superheroes, cars, and dinosaurs recently. It's very fun to watch him play, because mostly the scenarios he comes up with involve a lot of physical comedy, such as tripping and falling. Sometimes, he has a bit of dialogue between the characters of his play, but we don't really follow the story other than to summarize that there are some things happening. 
A German and a Baseball Player
Kira happened to catch one of his games this week, and the dialogue was quite intriguing. He was playing with two dinosaurs who were engaging in some high-jinx. Suddenly, one stopped and exclaimed to the other, "Uh oh! My diaper!" The other dinosaur calmly replied, through Hakan, "Oh, that's okay, I can change your diaper."

It's nice to see him prosocially problem solving through his imaginative play.
Princess Leia With a Light Saber and Corrective Lenses
Otherwise, this week we had a cold spread through the boys and Kira. Avey and I were spared. That made for a miserable night or two, but then, thankfully, Merritt had a very much improved night, letting Kira sleep until 5 a.m. or so. He regressed last night, but we are hopeful that this is the beginning of a new chapter in his sleeping.
The big event of the week was the annual Trunk-or-Treat. Carver changed his mind for his costume every two minutes throughout the day, while Avey had hers picked out for at least a week. Merritt simply followed tradition (all of our boys were skeletons for their first Halloween), and Hakan also followed in Carver's footsteps by being an adorable German in traditional Lederhosen.

We've felt too busy to really dive into the season, but Avey is aiming to carve a pumpkin later today, and the kids have been going through all of our Halloween decorations like it's a treasure chest. As long as they are not killing each other, that's a success.

We are excited to see if the Cubs can pull off another win in the World Series, and think it's pretty cool to live here for their first appearance in so many years. We are even more excited for this year's election to finally end soon, and release us from its painful talons or just finally consume us and get it over with. We'll soon see if the world ends because of it.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

"Taste the Rainbow," and Other Trademark Infringements

When I was a lad, we had a large window in our front room through which the sun would shine in the late afternoons. Inspired by Pollyanna, my mother decked out the window with several prisms so that the sunlight would split into its various wavelengths of light to cast gorgeous rainbows all over the room. 

Now that I'm older, with children of my own, we have carried on the tradition a little bit. We have a large front window as well, although the angle with the tall trees across the street gives us about 10 minutes of sunshine coming through at the correct angle. We have a single prism dangling there to catch the sun's rays (I believe we inherited it from my mother, in fact). 

A few days ago, the older boys were playing in the front room when the sun happened to shine at the right angle to make the little rainbows all over the room. Hakan was especially excited, and shouted for me to come and see. I went in and he pointed out all of the rainbows he could see. One of them was right at eye level on the wall, and I showed him that he could touch it. He played with it a moment, and then I jokingly suggested to the boys, "I wonder what it tastes like!"

Hakan did not hesitate, licking the wall immediately. Carver followed right after, licking the wall whereupon the rainbow had been cast. I laughed and cringed a little at what had just happened, when Carver looked at me somewhat puzzled and said, "It just tastes like wall."

We'll see you in court, Skittles
In other news, we've had little success with Merritt's sleeping. Kira was wiped out by the end of the week after all of the late-night nursing, so I decided to get up with him Friday night and try a bottle again. He had been refusing bottles for a few weeks, but we thought surely if he were hungry enough, he could lower his standards just a bit and deal with it. 

Boy was I wrong. I tried three different styles of nipple, and about a dozen holding positions, but he would not even let the cursed things touch his lips. After an hour, Kira took over again. We've also resorted to taking him on drives to get him to sleep. That is very effective, as he will zonk out after just a few minutes, but the process of moving him out of the van back into the house without waking him takes so much time and caution that it is its own hassle. He's lucky he's so cute or we might let the zoo raise him during this phase. 
Still no teeth to show for his trouble, so we are starting him on a little bit of food in the hopes that it is just his hunger getting him up. We'll see...

Avey began a fundraising project for orchestra this week, and the little prizes that are available have really motivated her to get out there and pound the streets. She's a regular little saleswoman, having successfully conned nearly all of our neighbors out of their hard-earned cash for some overpriced sweets. With her ability to get people to buy things they don't want for way more money than they could have spent elsewhere, she may have a bright future ahead in politics.

I've had some big changes at work this week. With low enrollment plaguing the school, there have been some changes to our duties, including an increased teaching load for next semester. That's left me scrambling a bit. I'm not opposed to more teaching, I just wish I had had some notice.

We are looking forward to Halloween and Thanksgiving, if only to break up the routine a bit. Scare responsibly.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Owies and Illnesses

The week began with a pretty rough cold for me, and a night of very little sleep. Our house guest had hopes of seeing Chicago, I was feeling bad enough, and Kira had had so little sleep from the night that we decided it would be best if our guest went on walkabout by herself. She was completely fine with that, probably able to see much more without waiting for us to catch up. Kira was a little saddened by the missed opportunity to leave our four walls, if only for a little while, but we set a goal for her to take our guest to some ice cream later that evening while trying to get a nap during the day. I took a much-needed trip to Costco while Avey spent her day off at a friend's (a boy!) house. 
Tuesday I was back to work, but my cold was much worse. I had slept only a few hours that night thanks very much to a stuffy nose and a fussy baby. I muscled through the day, and came home. Avey had another school day off, so lazed around the house poking at books and shows and various projects. 

Wednesday, Kira and I had both slept better. Without any meetings on campus, I went to work at our local library and managed pretty well. I stacked up quite the pile of used tissues as I worked, but at least I stayed productive. 

Thursday was worst of all. My symptoms were at full fury, and Merritt decided that he would go for the world record at keeping parents awake. Kira took the first shift, which lasted until 1:30 a.m., and then traded with me. What sleep I had was pitiful, so I suffered through work that day. It was my long day, teaching three courses between 9:30 and 4:30, but at least my long afternoon course was an exam day, leaving me able to sit and keep from talking much. Kira was kind enough to get me to and from the train station, saving me the short but agonizing-when-ill bike ride.

Then Friday, after some better sleep, I realized that I had a meeting on Friday and had to go to the city. The meeting was productive and I got some other good stuff done, so it was pretty worth it. Thankfully, I awoke Saturday feeling nearly better, and am almost back to myself today. 
We are fortunate that none of the kids caught my illness. Still, Hakan has been working through some interesting issues.

He's been on a new kick of needing bandages all the time. He'll get the tiniest of pinches on a finger or toe, and then insist that he needs a bandage. What's especially silly is that he then wants to remove the cumbersome thing about 30 seconds later. Kira quickly decided that we could just reuse the same bandage over and over, so we have one on stand-by on the kitchen counter for whenever Hakan gets the slightest bonk. Whatever helps him feel better, I suppose...
We are enjoying our cooler weather very much, but are wary of the impending winter. It will be nice that the boys are older and can do more in the snow, but the fact that they still need supervision worries us that they will spend most of the winter indoors with a bad case of cabin fever. Still, we are excited as we plan out our Christmas trip to see family and friends.
Kira is gradually getting things in place to take a few clients. She has some referrals already, but has run into several obstacles to getting office space for so little time. Fortune favored us this week with a new opening within walking distance of our home and a free evening for her use. She'll get that going in a few more weeks, simultaneously getting a break from the hard work of managing the children and getting to exercise her therapist brain, while also adding a little income.

Stay tuned for more updates as they come.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Visitors From Beyond Illinois

It's been an exciting week as we've prepared for guests. The first was not so much a guest as a visitor. She was my classmate in El Paso, who was coming to Chicago to run in the marathon happening today. She, her husband, and I met up in the city near my office and had lunch while we caught up on all the goings on here and back on my old stomping grounds. It was a fun visit, and got me looking forward to the conference in March where I'll see most of my UTEP buddies. 
Shirts by Avey
The second visitor really is a guest! Kira's college roommate, Caroline, lives and works a few states over. She likes to travel, and wanted to catch up with us, so she is joining us for a few days here in Illinois. She has been a wonderful presence to have in the house, as she is great with kids (and we have a lot of kids). The boys instantly took a shine to her and have been battling for her attention every minute since she arrived. Thankfully, she takes it all in stride, patiently letting them show off, playing games, and reading to them. We will be sad to see her go on Tuesday.
Merritt's sleep has been chaotic. He tends to take little cat naps during his feedings, with one longer nap about midday. He continues to get Kira up for a nursing during the very early morning hours, but made it especially challenging for us last night. He was out at 9, but when Kira tried to lay him in bed his eyes opened up wide and he started grinning like a kid on a snow day. I stayed up with him for about another hour and a half so that Kira could get some sleep (she'd let me nap earlier in the day), but the little scamp refused to nod off without getting his mother back up. 
On top of it all, he then woke her up again around 2:30 a.m., and then again around 5. We hope that he is just trying to gain weight and catch up with his peers. If this is the new normal, we are going to need a bigger boat, as it were. 
He is getting better every day at sitting up on his own, and he rolls more from back to front and back. He'll be mobile in no time.

Avey has the next two days off of school, so she is looking forward to soaking up the leisure time. Otherwise, we are healthy and surviving.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Avey's Ninth

Avey's birthday celebration lasted all week, with gifts pouring in with the mail each day. So far, the most popular one was a crochet of the main character from a puzzle game, Cut the Rope. Avey took it to the park with us this morning, and she spent hours over the week constructing a display for it on her wall, including several elements from the game. 

We heard about a fun event at our local fire station, and decided to check it out. Of course it was scheduled for the rainiest day we've had this year. But still, the kids had a lot of fun. We got to take a ride around the block in a real fire truck, and got tons of little toys and nick knacks. 
Near the end, they even had a burn demonstration. They set fire to a structure they had built in the parking lot to show us how fire spreads, and the importance of sprinkler systems in the home. It was really cool to see a television set melt!
Poor Hakan had a rough time on Thursday. He woke up about 4:30 in the morning coughing, but he quickly fell asleep again after I went to check on him. He awoke again around 5:30 complaining of "chokies," which turned out to be throw up. He got up a little wet, but not stinky (thank goodness). He tried a little cracker and some water, but that didn't last long. The poor guy kept asking for food, but we had to turn him down. His tummy finally settled after some soda and a little cracker. Once he kept that down, we gave him some bread, which he wolfed down. He then followed that up with some chicken salad and some of Avey's birthday cake. He hasn't had symptoms since, so we are glad that it was so short.
We tried to give Kira some peace and quiet as she watched General Conference, so we went to the park where we had come upon the praying mantis weeks ago. We thought we'd look for it in the tree where we left it, certain that it would be in vain, but sure enough, it was still there! Avey was excited for a chance to prove her bravery, and let it crawl on her:
She has matured a lot in the last year, and we are excited to see how she grows more. She's been on a kick recently of trying things that she hasn't done before, including physical challenges she is likely to face in her gym class. She's gotten the older boys into it too, and we often find them doing somersaults and other tumbling games on our couch.

We are looking forward to some shorter school days for Avey this week, and we also expect a friend from our Provo days to visit us later in the week. Maybe we can also manage to squeeze in some sleep...

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Nearly Nine

Avey will turn nine later this week, a terrifying result of having been born nearly that long ago. Although I deny that time actually passes, she decided that she'd prefer to do most of the celebrating over this past weekend (because next weekend is General Conference and, therefore, already spoken for). 

In lieu of a cake this year, she requested her favorite dessert: chocolate crinkle cookies. She had fantasies of binge-eating them until she burst or passed out, and also wanted to share the treat with her friends, so I doubled the recipe. She wanted to eat four for breakfast on Saturday morning: a request that Kira granted. Luckily, Avey forgot her plan long enough for me to make her an egg, which she also ate. 
Road Hogs
She opened a couple of presents, but will do most of that on her actual birthday. One of her requests for the day was to see a movie in 3D. She and Kira went to a matinee of the new film, Storks, which was reportedly quite entertaining. Avey enjoyed the 3D experience very much.

Our afternoon was spent at a nearby park to which Avey had invited several friends to play as an informal party. The friends also brought their siblings, who made for some good playmates for our younger boys.

We finished the day off with some cheeseburgers and, once the boys were in bed, Avey finished her night with a Harry Potter film and a new puzzle game from one of her friends. We cannot [refuse to] believe that Avey is so big! We are so proud of the girl she is. We were excited (but not at all surprised) when she brought home a note from her teacher explaining that she had excelled at a math test that week and has been grouped with the advanced math kids to go to special sessions each week. She also recently began orchestra at school, so we are anxious to see how her skills improve.
In other news, Hakan seems to have reduced his efforts to be a mini-Carver. It used to work when Carver would show Hakan that he was eating or getting dressed and Hakan would come following after, but now Hakan has mostly decided that he is his own man. He likes to dress himself early in the day, rather than staying in pajamas until 3 p.m. or whatever. He also plays more independent games, but that may also be the result of Carver's waning patience with his little brother. 

Carver was doing very well without naps for a couple of weeks. It's been a very long time since he regularly napped, even though he obviously needs them. However, there were a couple of weeks where he seemed to do just fine. No more, unfortunately. He is back to his cranky, exhausted self around midday until getting a rush of adrenaline at 4 or so. Maybe as a teenager he will finally learn the value of sleep.
Merritt is a champ at just about everything but his sleeping lately. He spoiled us rotten for too long, apparently, because now he wakes Kira around 3 a.m. most nights for a feeding. He's making up for it with rolling over skills and, most recently, sitting up. He needs some more practice, but he's impressing us all. He seems to be spurred on by the examples of his rough-and-tumble, if-I-stop-moving-I-will-die older brothers. He is anxious to join in their shenanigans, and if Avey's 9 years are any indication, his growth will seem like the blink of an eye.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Undiscovered Playground

The boys had been at home for several days in a row by Saturday. They'd played in the back yard, the basement, and everywhere in between. They didn't seem to mind, but it was in everyone's interest to give them an outing and let Kira have some time at home with a little less screaming and carnage. So we thought we'd escape to a park. 

There are many a beautiful park in the area, but we tend to stick with the two closest to us (within walking distance). I thought we'd spread our wings, as it were, and venture a bit further to find some new stomping grounds. 

It was a lot of fun! The kids quickly discovered that a short distance away there is a large patch of bushes that were planted in such a way as to provide a sort of maze underneath them, just large enough for children their ages. That led to all sorts of imaginary and hiding games. 

The fun went on for some time, and I finally caught a moment to rest on a bench. Avey came over after a few minutes to talk to me, but shrieked mid-sentence, and pointed to something next to me. I assumed the worst (a spider sucking all of my blood out and laying eggs inside the wound), but when I jumped up to look for the source of her exclamation, I saw this on the bench:
It was a praying mantis! Its wing appeared to be injured, and it only crawled slowly around the bench. That made for the highlight of the day. Avey has liked this type of insect for a long time now, first becoming interested in them from the Kung Fu Panda trilogy, and she even made the mantis the subject of a bug sculpting school project she did while we lived in El Paso. Still, seeing a real live one was a bit humbling.
We all watched with awe as it crawled around and inspected us. Eventually, I placed my hand out and it crawled onto my arm. Carver decided he would like to make friends with Monty the Mantis, too.
The other kids opted to keep their distance, though Avey carried Monty around on a stick to show to the other young park patrons. She was met with mixed reactions.

All things considered, it was a great adventure, and we may have found a new favorite park. We'll now have to try new ones more often.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sharing Everything

The fun continues at the Ricks residence. Avey stayed home from school one day this week after she complained of a sore throat and not feeling well. We suspect that it may be allergies, because her energy was pretty normal and the symptoms never got too severe. 

In other medical news, I took half of Wednesday off so that we could take all of the boys in to the doctor. The two oldest were there just for shots, and Merritt had a checkup. Carver did really well modeling to Hakan how to just hold still, even though the shot hurts. Hakan survived, but needed quite a bit of cuddling.
Carver remains a model big brother over the last few weeks. We don't know what clicked, but he has been a champ at sitting at the table and focusing on eating (Normally he takes about 5 minutes in between bites, and gets up from the table as often as he can.). I suspect that it has something to do with his recent realization that Hakan is his number one fan, and watches him constantly. He's started to understand the responsibility that comes along with such power. As a result, he and Hakan have been frequently inseparable recently. They play together often, and it usually goes quite well. 

Carver is our best sharer, and he usually uses that skill to bond with his little brother. However, it's gotten a little weird recently. For one thing, Hakan wants to be just like Carver even in wearing underwear. Carver frequently allows Hakan to wear some of his underwear over Hakan's diaper. Hakan continues to wear Carver's much-too-big-for-a-two-year-old pajamas at night. Twice in the last few weeks, Carver has even shared one of his most intimate activities; after completing a bowel movement, he has twice offered to Hakan that they can flush the potty together, both putting a hand on the lever and pressing it down at the same time, then waving "goodbye" to the toilet's contents. It's simultaneously cute and disturbing.
Merritt is growing in both size and adorableness. He is often content to just lay and play with one of his many toys. He seems to want to work on standing unassisted more than sitting up by himself. He's in a new phase where he refuses to take a bottle from me. That's not usually a problem because Kira does not typically leave him for very long, but twice in the last couple of weeks he has been hungry but turned down the bottle milk. It's still breastmilk, but there must be something about the whole experience that disgusts him. If this pattern persists, it's going to be especially awkward when Kira starts taking clients again. The plan was to have her gone one evening a week during which I would feed him a bottle, so maybe he caught on to our scheme and decided to throw a wrench in those spokes. At least the other times he has not been too terribly fussy about his hunger. He eventually drank a portion of the bottle and then lost interest, but was in generally good spirits until Kira came home. Perhaps he'll grow out of the phase before too long.

We are looking forward to a spectacularly mild week (in temperature, anyway). We'll try to enjoy it before the winter frost attacks.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Cool School

We survived our first week back at school. Avey enjoys her new teacher and classmates, but is not very excited about making lunches and doing homework every day. We hope to get back into a routine with it so that it doesn't seem like such a hassle. It turns out that the third grade can participate in orchestra, so we are going to get Avey signed up for that. She's been taking sporadic lessons on violin from a high school student we know, but it will be nice to have her more regularly working on it. She's been a little more motivated to practice since she picked out a song to learn (rather than just drills). Ever since hearing her great aunts and uncle play Pachelbel's "Canon in D," she has wanted to learn to play it. 
I am back in full swing at school, too. I have a strange schedule this semester, teaching only two days a week, but three courses. I spent a lot of this week meeting with students about dissertations and other projects they would like to do. I am looking forward to the courses this semester, and was surprised at how many students I recognized from my courses last year - they must be glutton for punishment. I am even doing an independent study with one of my former students.
Smushy Faced Hakan
Kira has continued to keep the children fed (despite all of their efforts), and alive (despite all of their efforts). Their appetites seem to wax and wane like the moon cycle. They have also had a surprising number of tumbles recently. Hakan is a climber and a runner, but lacks the experience to keep his body where he wants it. Too often the result is that he scrapes or knocks into something, but it's nothing that a few hugs, kisses, and a little time to heal won't solve.
Carver is working hard to make sense of the world. A few days ago, Hakan was singing the ABC song, skipping over a few letters here and there, and then struggling through the "LMNOP" hurdle. Carver, who was listening, decided to correct Hakan, and carefully enunciated each letter in the alphabet until putting extra emphasis at the difficult part, stating "MLNOP." Kira and I chuckled to ourselves as the "expert" bombed it. Twenty-five out of 26 isn't bad.

We've enjoyed a few days of gloriously mild temperatures and low humidity, so yesterday I took the kids to the park, and Carver wanted to play "Magic Schoolbus." He asked where we should go, and I suggested we visit Mars. He steered the spaceship, and when we "landed," he told me to be on the lookout for Martians. He said, "They are green and have three eyes. They are kind of like aliens, but not really." I wondered what an alien looks like.

Merritt is adorable as ever, but we are running out of things to do to keep him entertained. There is only so much stuff for him to look at and chew on in our home. Most of the time the solution is to have someone smile with him, but he often wants attention at the same time as everyone else in the house. Without mobility and language, he struggles the most to stay occupied. Still, he is a generally very happy boy, and usually enjoys rolling around on something soft as long as there is something he can hold and something else upon which to fix his gaze.

That boy will be chasing his older brothers around before we realize.

Happy Labor Day!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Imitation Game

...but not referring to the movie

Hakan has not eased up at all in his attempts to be somebody else. If anything, he may have doubled down in trying to be a little Carver. For a couple of days now, he has completely refused to wear any of his own clothes, insisting instead on wearing Carver's clothes and pajamas. He looks like a shrunken toddler inside the shorts and shirts that are two sizes too big. His shorts slip down to his ankles regularly, but he only makes some joke about seeing his underwear [sic] and then goes right back to following Carver around. 
Hakan simply will not leave Carver alone, either. He is persistent in spending virtually all of his time with Carver, so much so that he braved another shower this week so that he wouldn't have to leave his older brother's side. 

Carver has taken it all in stride so far. He has been angelically patient with his little brother in tow, and has used this development for some wonderful teaching moments. For example, Hakan was long overdue for a haircut this week. Hakan hates haircuts. He loathes them. I think it's fair to say that they are even traumatic for him. Carver stayed by his side to encourage him, but when the little guy still refused to let me touch his hair, Carver even offered to demonstrate by getting a haircut himself, showing how it didn't hurt at all. Then Carver stayed right by his side, covered in hair, as Hakan agonized his way through, then they shared the shower. 

Carver even offered to stay in his bed to try to encourage Hakan to take a nap, when Hakan just couldn't be torn from his big brother's side. It didn't work out too well, but we were so impressed at his willingness. We hope that their mentor/mentee relationship lasts through their teenage years (at least, we think we hope).
After our illnesses last week, we boys are just nursing runny noses this week. The girls never did get it, thankfully (and suspiciously). School starts up tomorrow, reminding us just how little we've accomplished this summer!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Black Eyes and Runny Noses

We got pretty beat up by this week. It all started when Carver was doing one of his ill-advised stunts. This time he decided to dismount the bathroom stool with a big leap toward the bathtub, but failed to factor in that his underwear were wrapped around his ankles, preventing them from moving. He smashed pretty hard, and his eye has cycled through just about every color in the rainbow so far. Fortunately, he says there is no pain.
The health troubles were only beginning for us, though. Hakan and Carver both came down with a cold that made it hard for them to sleep at night. Their noses got stuffed up, leaving them to breathe through their mouths, making their achy throats even worse. They had one really bad night but seem to be mending quickly.

Just as we were going to bed on Friday night I could tell that my throat was getting sore, and sure enough, I awoke on Saturday feeling like garbage. Last night was even worse as I barely slept. Luckily, the kids all had a great night, so Kira got to sleep through the night. I am still pretty out of it, but am planning on loading up on the medicine tonight. Poor Merritt seems to have come down with this cold, too, but he is handling it even better than I; He slept the best out of the whole house.

I am a little weirded out that this particular strain seems to target only the males in our family, because Avey and Kira have thus far gone unscathed. I have been licking Avey's dishes before she eats her meals just to see if she can actually get it, so we'll see how that turns out.
Hakan has been struggling to find himself this week. At one moment he will play in all of Merritt's toys, and squeeze himself into Merritt's chairs, but then at the next moment he wants to be just like Carver. He insisted every day this last week that he needed to wear a pair of Carver's pajamas to bed. That turned out to be quite the sight, as they nearly fall off of him while he runs around. His modeling of Carver turns up all over; he doesn't want to wear a bib unless Carver does, he has started showering with Carver instead of taking solo baths like usual, when Carver went into the backyard barefoot Hakan decided to take off his own shoes, and so on. The poor guy seems to be working on finding out where he fits in, but we're sure he'll figure it out.
Avey found out this week who will be her teacher for 3rd Grade, and then she excitedly called her best friends from 2nd Grade to find out to whom they were assigned. She was disappointed to learn that of her three best friends, only one will be in her same class. At least she can have lunch with the others, but we were all pretty bummed at the news. 

This is our last week before school starts back up. Still, I need to head to campus twice this week for various meetings. We completed Avey's school supply shopping at least (which was a nightmare), so at least there's that. It's going to be strange getting back into the normal routine with Merritt hanging around, but if anyone can do it, we can!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Powerless

The battle continues here at the Ricks residence. This seemed a particularly difficult week for many reasons. Kira was coordinating a baby shower at the end of the week, which took up much of her brain power and added little errands and many phone calls to our already overloaded schedule of begging children to eat. It finally took place yesterday, so she and I are thrilled to have it behind us.
Another unexpected challenge to our sanity was our electricity. The flow of electrons we usually take for granted to charge our phones, cool our home, light our path, and entertain ourselves and our children was disrupted twice in one day. They were brief outages of just a few seconds, so were no more than an annoyance. However, the next day near dinner time, without warning the power shut off entirely, and remained off until about 9 p.m. We had to light candles to see our books, and Kira had to cancel her plans to do laundry. The worst part was that the boys' room got warmer and warmer in our summer heat, with no air conditioning to relieve them. Carver slept right through it, but Hakan woke a few times very cranky and sweaty. Thank goodness we didn't need to deal with that all night!
Perhaps the worst part was that we thought we had the power issues all behind us, only to have it shut off again two days later! It was in the middle of the day this time, again for several hours, limiting our functioning significantly. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the problem is solved now, and are thankful that this particular luxury is normally a given.

In other news, Merritt rolled over unassisted twice this week! We were practicing tummy time like always, and he managed to do it. He is no doubt inspired by the Olympians he's caught occasionally on the television. He'll be crawling in no time!
Carver had a couple of particularly funny moments this week. Just this morning, as we were at the breakfast table, he seemed deep in thought for a moment before turning to me and saying, "Dad, I bet a DVD would not float on water." I'm not sure it sparked the intellectual debate he sought, but we all weighed in. What goes on in that boy's head that he doesn't say out loud?

Avey has been into pranks recently, and decided to plant a few signs on people's backs. She put one on my back that said "Kick me!" I pretended not to notice, and then went to help Carver with something. Carver, aware of the prank, and not wanting to ruin it, shot a glance at my back, and then his eyes darted right back to mine. A tiny smirk appeared in his cheeks as he fought the urge to giggle, and just to make sure that I did not suspect anything, he said, "Dad, there's nothing on your back." I was glad he told me that, because otherwise I would have been suspicious.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Visitor

This was a very special week for us because my mother was here to visit. She's gotten some quality time with all of her grandchildren this summer, and our kids are especially grateful. It's been amazing to have an extra pair of hands ready to hold Merritt, but perhaps even better to have an adult who loves children and knows how to treat them. 
Avey, Covered With Mud
Avey has had some excellent tutoring in beginning sewing, and is already starting to plan out clothes she might make when she has the skill.

Carver is mostly enjoying having an audience for all of his mind-blowing moves. He also enjoys having another person available for reading books. He impressed Nana and me when he was finished playing in the mud at our nearby splash pad; he explained that he had a pet parrot on his arm, whom he introduced to us, and then proceeded to tell us all about. The invisible bird even lifted him into the sky for a moment or two.
Carver, the Mud Monster
Hakan has been thrilled to have a warm lap to sit on, and to have another pair of listening ears. He tries to join in with the older kids and Nana as they play card games. 
We were fortunate to have a nice visit from my great uncle and his wife, who live about 3 hours away. I had never met him, and my mother had not seen him in many years, but we had the most pleasant visit, and the kids behaved surprisingly well. We hope to see them more often.
Our biggest adventure was an excursion to Chicago to give my mom the full Illinois experience, complete with heat, humidity, sweat, lots of walking, and noise. We ran into some major headaches when it was time to feed the kiddies, but the boys wanted one restaurant and Avey wanted another. We split up to accommodate all, but realized too late that Kira, in an effort to travel lightly, had not brought her wallet. We had to meet back up (thank goodness for cellular phones) and then part ways again, only for them to wait in a very long line while Nana and I fed the boys. We adults spoiled ourselves with authentic Chicago-style stuffed pizza for our meal, after the boys were in bed, and that made a nice end to the hard day. Perhaps the best part of the Chicago trip was that we were finally able to find postcards for my mother - she and I had tried 3 stores in the suburbs with no success.

We are heartbroken that she has to leave us tomorrow. It will no doubt feel empty and alone here without her calming presence, but I suppose it's good motivation for us to make it back to Colorado in the near future.

School starts up in 3 weeks, so now begins the desperate efforts to squeeze a little more fun out of the summer...

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Fizzleworks

Another busy week came and went. We started off the week with a professional photo shoot at the mall. You may recall that the last time we tried to get family photos was a complete disaster, so my blood pressure was rising since the moment I was awoken by the boys at whatever ungodly hour they chose. 

This trip, to our surprise and delight, was fabulous compared to the last. Our first wise decision was to photograph just the two youngest because they have changed the most since last time. Our second wise choice was to do the photo shoot on a lazy Monday instead of a manic Saturday, so that we had virtually zero wait time, and there were few other patrons with whom to share the waiting area. 
In the future, it may be worth it for me to take a day off of work just so that we can take our photos on a weekday. 

What sanity we saved from the Monday photo shoot was quickly lost on Thursday, unfortunately. The town in which we live puts on free concerts during the summer, and Thursday night was supposed to include a fireworks display. Some friends of ours testified to the quality of the show, and we thought it might be a fun thing for the older two kids to see. That was our first mistake. 
We informed Carver of the late-night event, but made clear that he could attend only if he took a nap during the day. He agreed to try by accompanying Avey and me on a trip back to the mall (where she could purchase an item that caught her eye during our photo trip). He promptly fell asleep on the drive, and Avey and I waited in the car for a while to let him rest. He awoke in good spirits and all, but the nap was probably too brief to last him through the 9:00 p.m. show. Still, we pressed onward. 

It had rained through much of the afternoon, so we checked on the website to look for any indication that the event was canceled, but everything appeared normal. The rain had died down quite a bit by the evening, so we figured it was still on. Kira timed Merritt's feedings just right so that he should not need to nurse after the show, and the kids packed up snacks. 

Merritt's feeding did not go quite as planned (he was distracted and did not eat very well), so as soon as Kira left with Avey and Carver, Merritt started screaming at the top of his little lungs. He seemed awfully tired, too, but after several minutes trying to get him to sleep, his screaming only worsened, so I ended up needing to give him a bottle, after which he promptly passed out. Kira informed me several minutes after they had left that there was no concert and nobody at the event, so it appeared to be canceled, but they heard a few other people around mention that they thought the fireworks show was still on. So they waited and waited...all for naught. They came home exhausted and disappointed, and spent the next day cranky for lack of sleep.
At least they got some fun yesterday. I figured it was high time we get them out of the house again, so we went to a nearby forest preserve and had a little picnic lunch, then went exploring.
They had a grand old time pretending that they were all sorts of things. We muddied up our shoes really well, too. Hakan kept asking about "see the animals," apparently thinking that we were at the zoo again. Fortunately, we did find three frogs, several butterflies and dragonflies, and a few birds to satisfy his itch.

My mother comes to visit us tomorrow, and we are all so excited to have her!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Cooling Down

We had a much better week in many respects, owed mostly to the fact that Avey made it a point to be friends with Carver. They still had their moments, but mostly they cooperated and played well together.

We had a couple of boys over during the week who are Carver's and Hakan's ages. That was at least a change of pace for the household as everybody was occupied with the guests. They were good boys, and there were only a few scuffles that were quickly resolved. 
The three older kids and I spent an afternoon at a nearby park with a little splash pad. That was a lot of fun for its novelty, and especially in light of the heat we've had. It's certainly nothing compared to those El Paso summers (the memories of which still traumatize us), but they still are uncomfortable. The water was cool, and it was not very crowded, so it made for a delightful change of pace. The kids requested another visit there just this morning, which I had to turn down, but perhaps tomorrow will have us there again.
Merritt had a couple of rough days where he just would not be soothed. He caught a little cold that had made its rounds through the family, but he seems to have had the worst of it with a runny nose and hoarse (but still adorable) voice. He was acting normal through most of it, but something seems to have snapped the last couple of days when he is fed, and has a clean diaper, but just won't be soothed for several minutes at a time. We remind ourselves that this was normal for most of Hakan's first few months, so we are at least glad that Merritt is a much easier baby overall. Hopefully whatever is bothering him will soon pass.
Otherwise, I am trying to squeeze in a few hours of work here and there to prepare for the coming semester, and Kira is working to get her practice set up to start taking clients in the next couple of months. The experiment continues...