Sunday, January 31, 2016

Boredom

A confluence of things seems to have led to a tidal wave of boredom in our home lately. Most of this revolves around Carver. First, as I have noted for the past year or so, he has been transitioning away from naps. Apparently what that means is that he needs a nap every day around 11 or 12, but he fights it. Second, the bitter cold weather we've endured for the last couple of weeks has made it painful to go outside, and leaves us with few places to go that are any fun. Lastly, the kids have been obsessed with a Wii game for a few weeks now. 

The struggle is that Carver gets tired, and rather than having the insight to understand that he could solve his disequilibrium with rest, he tries to fill the void with entertainment in the form of couch potatoism. He'll whine and mope that he wants to play the game, and we encourage him to have a rest or play with his many toys. The debate goes on and on. 

Finally yesterday, we discovered something that sparked his interest. It was in the 40s outside (quite cozy compared to the last several days), and he had just received a new toy dinosaur from his Nana earlier in the week. I suggested that he take his dinosaurs outside and pretend they were in prehistoric times. By the look on his face, I could tell that he was considering it, but not yet sold. I added, "Maybe you could even take Batman with you to ride the dinosaurs." That did it. 
He was finally able to entertain himself for a good long while without the use of a screen! Maybe we can start to do that more often.
Luckily, an activity that Avey and Carver are willing to play at any time is baseball. We head down to our wide open basement and I pitch a plush ball to them, at which they swing with a plush bat we got for Carver at his last birthday. They'd play that most of the time if Kira or I could be on call to pitch to them.

The other day, I was playing with them. Carver was at the plate, ready with the bat. I wound up to pitch, when Carver realized that he'd forgotten something vital. He stopped me before I could release the ball, and said, "Hold on, Dad. I have to get ready." I paused, and watched, curious. He bent over and hit the floor with the little stuffed bat a couple of times, then he stood back up, and put the bat at the ready. He said, "That's how they get ready."

We are doing well otherwise. Hakan stayed in his bed once or twice this week, and he and I are nearly over our colds. Kira and I are very close to settling on a name for Baby Boy. Perhaps I will post it next week!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Panic! at the Mall

We were long overdue for some professional family photos (professional photos, that is, not professional family). Kira scheduled our appointment for 2:15 yesterday, a Saturday, so that we could catch Hakan in between naps, and catch us all in between meals. Alas, the day did not proceed with nearly as much ease as we had envisioned. 

When Kira made the appointment, they told us to be on time or risk a long wait. We are no friends of long waits, so we did all that we could to be on time. Unfortunately, Hakan had kept us both awake for a large section of our early (and I mean very early) morning, so we were both quite tired. Kira opted to sleep in and then take over the children later while I napped. I must have napped too long, because it took all we had to get to the mall before our appointment. We made it to the parking lot with 2 minutes to spare, and then spent about 5 minutes wandering the store looking for the studio. Once we checked in, the nice workers politely informed us that they were behind by about 2 sessions. I thought, "And why the [expletive] did you not think to inform us of this minor [expletive] detail when you called to confirm our [expletive] appointment an [expletive] hour ago?" For you see, I had been in such a rush to feed the children lunch and get them in their photo-friendly attire that I was forced to forego lunch, lest I arrive past the agreed-upon time of our appointment. You parents will also understand how difficult it can be to entertain young children in a photo studio for any given amount of time, especially working to keep them from dirtying up their clothes and leading their hairstyles to disarray. 
video
I was doing my best to formulate a diplomatic, but firm, phrasing to express my discontent, but I calmed some when they agreed to accept a sizable coupon that we were not sure would be valid. I bit my tongue for a while longer.
At the Field Museum, Chicago
At 3:15, an hour after our "appointment" that turned out to be just a place holder, we were called in. The shoot went well enough, and then began the real challenge. Kira pored over the pictures to decide which to get, while I took the children to the food court in search of sustenance.

By that time, it was 4:00 - a little early for the kids' dinner, but I did not see how I could keep them occupied while I wolfed down my lunch/dinner. I thought I'd buy them some fries to share, but then figured they were ready and willing to eat then, and if I waited longer I might miss the window of willingness as they got further from their overdue naps. I asked them if they wanted their usual cheeseburgers. Avey decided that she'd rather try the submarine sandwich place. Well, I wanted the taco place. Whatever. I bought the boys their food, and as we were waiting for the order to come, Avey announced that she had changed her mind, and wanted a cheeseburger after all. Brilliant. We waited for the boys' food, then got back in line to order hers, and waited for it. We then ordered my tacos, and found a place to sit.
"Crocodile" Hakan Tames Another One
Carver has struggled for months now to use his own hands to shovel food into his mouth. He will sit passively until someone picks up a bite and tosses it into his pie hole. Hakan was so sick of sitting still for the camera that he refused to stay in his stroller for lunch, so I let him stand on a chair. Fortunately, he will actually pick up and eat the food of his own volition. Avey can also feed herself. 

I got the children started and juggled them while poking at my own food. About halfway through, Carver says to me, "Daddy, I need to go potty!" I had, of course, offered to take him before we got our food, but apparently my attempts to let him have dominion over his bladder were premature. I quickly threw food into little nooks and crannies of the already-over-packed stroller, made some quick and feeble attempt to wipe the grease from the kids' hands, and then took them all to the restroom. They had a family restroom available, but naturally it was occupied. I hauled them into the men's room, which smelled far worse than any zoo exhibit we'd ever visited. I nearly lost my appetite as we managed to be in everyone's way getting Carver on the potty. He almost wouldn't go because the hand dryers are about as loud as jet engines, but he did finally relieve himself. 

We made our way back out to the food court, and finished our meal with defeated looks on all of our faces. 

Kira joined us, and while she got her food, I took the kids to the play area of the mall. That place is a free-for-all, dog-eat-dog, death trap. There are rules posted, but either the parents ignore them or cannot read. There were children far taller than the limit, running around playing chasing games, and about a quarter of them were wearing shoes. I played Hakan's body guard, and Carver dove right in to the chaos to release some built up tension. 

Hakan was tentative, but eventually tried out climbing on some of the equipment. There was one point where a flock of little girls swarmed him, but they were harmless. A boy a little bigger than he approached him at one time, and tugged on his arms a bit. I watched closely to see how he would react, maybe making a friend. Before I could do anything, the boy had Hakan in a headlock and had thrown him to the ground. I rushed in and picked him up, and firmly told the bully that it is not okay to do that. Of course, his parents were nowhere to be found, probably on their phones reading up on the latest Kardashian shenanigans rather than parenting. The boy approached Hakan a few minutes later, and I was prepared this time. As soon as he grabbed Hakan's arm, I jumped in and did what his parents should have been doing. 

After what seemed like an eternity, we were united again and left the mall to marinade in its anarchy. Weary, we returned home and proceeded to get the children in bed. 

And the countdown to the next family photo shoot commences...

Sunday, January 17, 2016

3 to 1

Kira has been enjoying her trip to Colorado, and says that the funeral service was very good and appropriate. She's had quality time with her family and some friends, and worked hard to help out with the preparations and such. We are excited to have her return tonight!

We've been busy here at home, too. I've managed things pretty well, if I say so myself. The kids have been relatively cooperative and kind to one another, and Avey, especially, has tried to be helpful to me and patient with her brothers. 

We were especially glad to have my sister fly in on Friday - the kids have been thrilled to have a playmate at their disposal. It's been great to have an extra pair of capable hands to help manage them. Yesterday was particularly trying after Hakan woke up at 5 a.m., excited to get the day started. He woke up the rest of his siblings, so I was up with them all. Hakan nearly did the same thing this morning at 3, but fortunately fell back asleep in my bed. 

To try to show my sister a good time here in the Land of Lincoln, we braved the cold weather and went to the zoo. Perhaps it was because so few people were there, but the animals were a bit more active than the last time we went. Hakan seemed particularly taken with the fish, but even more so with being able to run around. Carver enjoyed himself, but seemed most interested in the snacks I brought with us. Avey was really hoping to find the Goliath Spider we had heard was there, but we asked two workers and nobody knew about it. 
It was a nice break from the normal routine, but we paid for it with later meals and naps, leading to later bedtimes. Fortunately, it was a relatively peaceful night.
Tomorrow, we are going to try to venture into the city to show my sister a few sights. The forecast is not inviting, but we are up against the clock. My sister leaves us on Tuesday, just before my semester begins, and we get back into the normal routine.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Pappy Rex

We are sad to announce that the biggest news of the week was the passing of Kira's maternal grandfather, Rex, on Friday, at age 90. His health had been declining for some time, so we cannot say that this was unexpected, but it is still a great loss for all who knew him. He was a wonderful and talented man in many regards, and will be missed sorely. He was an especially jovial person, who always brought warmth and laughter wherever he went.

Kira had been planning on a trip to Utah this coming week anyway, so I was counting on being home with the children for several days, but we did not account for my being sick again in this past week. I seem to have caught Carver's illness, and then apparently something else halfway through that one. I was out from Tuesday through Thursday cycling through different symptoms with much discomfort. I am still operating at about 90% of my normal capacity now, which I figure is about 65% of a normal adult my age who does not have children. We are very fortunate that my work schedule allows for such flexibility. We are also glad that Kira has thus far been spared from the agony.
Kira will be heading to her grandfather's funeral in Colorado this week, and is very excited to see her entire family. Her cousin will be married over the weekend, so she will also be able to attend that as well. While I manage the kids at home, we hope that she will enjoy the freedom to connect with everyone, and hopefully get some well-deserved rest. We also expect that the funeral will be a time of celebration of her grandfather: a wonderful tribute to and closure of his rich life.
The Boys Play Wii (Hakan Pretends)
We are excited to have my only sister out for a visit late in the week, and hope that the kids will give her a little space. With Kira gone for the first part of my sister's visit, they may treat her like a pseudo mother, which may be good and bad. In any case, we can hardly stand the wait, and are starting our goat sacrificing early to invite good weather for her stay (it's about 14 degrees F today). The rest of you also need to come visit us.

Until next time, be safe!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Seeing Clearly in 2016

A few weeks ago, during a routine vision screening at school, Avey was flagged as having some trouble making out the letters. A followup confirmed the difficulty, and she was referred to an optometrist. She was diagnosed with myopia, and prescribed corrective eyeglasses.  
She is excited to show off her new look to her classmates this week when she returns to school, and we are surprised at how grown up she looks. We must admit that this is not really a shock, as both Kira and I wear glasses or contacts. Kira has had them since she was 5, and I got them in the third grade, so Avey is somewhere in between. Her little brothers are likely to follow in our footsteps too. We are glad that she enjoys the novelty, and had so many stylish options from which to choose. I cringe at photos of my younger self with the lenses that took up half of the surface area of my face.
In other news, if we were disappointed by our brown Christmas in Oklahoma, Illinois is making up for it with a white New Year. It started snowing the night we arrived home and has not yet melted. In fact, it has only accumulated more. We should be a little more excited, but it has been far too icy to actually form into snowmen and such. I'm sure we'll get even more before the winter's done.
In some sort of New Year's miracle, Carver has been better at voluntarily taking naps instead of being suckered into them during a drive around the neighborhood. Earlier this week, he was clearly in dire need of a nap as he was whining about some nonsense. He lay down on a pillow that was on the floor next to my bed and I said, "Doesn't it feel nice to lay down like that?" He assured me that he was just resting his feet. I offered him a blanket for while he rested his feet, which he accepted. A few moments later, he was asleep on our floor. I ran some errands, and when I returned he had awoken and ran to me, excitedly stating, "Daddy! I took a nap, and now I'm not mean!" It was nice to hear that he has been listening to our pleas and explanations for why naps are important, and that he does have some insight into his mood. He took another nap yesterday in his bed, but came down with a fever later, so now we're not so sure that it was entirely voluntary. He seems much better today, though, so who knows with this guy? 

There are sure to be many more surprises in store in 2016!