Sunday, June 26, 2016

Reflections

Merritt has been giving some awesome smiles lately. I recalled that Avey would often smile at herself in the mirror around this age, and I thought I'd see what Merritt would do with it. Luckily, Avey was nearby with her tablet and caught his delight at seeing such an adorable baby boy.
His joy was outdone only by ours. It's so much fun to see him grow and learn. He is cooing more, holding his head up more, and making all sorts of fun facial expressions.
Avey and Carver have kept themselves busy with swimming lessons each morning this last week, and they have one more week of that. I took them on Friday, and that was a lot of fun to watch. Avey is really building her courage, and Carver is a total chatterbox. He waited his turn in line by the side of the pool, and engaged a little girl his age in some conversation I couldn't make out from the bleachers, but he sure kept her entertained. Then, when his turn came to be in the water with the instructor, he was apparently telling her all sorts of stuff, because I don't think his lips stopped moving until he went under water, and only then did they close long enough only to hold his breath. Even if he won't be swimming like an Olympian after this week, at least he'll have made a ton of friends.
I finished up teaching my summer course on Thursday, so that's a relief to have done. Now I can be home more and have more flexibility for when I complete my other school projects. Kira is also looking forward to having another adult in the home more often, hopefully so that she can get a nap here and there. We'll see how that works out...

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day Tribute-by Kira

Happy Father's Day! In tribute to my father this year, here are 10 fond memories I have of him, in no particular order:

1.  Holding onto his waist tightly while we rode the motorcycle in the summer evenings

2.  Teaching me how to cut the lawn

3.   First, teaching me how to water ski, then taking me to water ski every summer, and being my biggest cheerleader for this sport 

4.   Riding in the back of the truck to go get 7-Eleven Slurpees

5.   Teaching me, mostly patiently, how to drive a car

6.   Curling and styling my hair for church

7.    His super loud whistle

8.    His beautiful singing voice that can make me laugh/smile or cry

9.  Jump up hugs in which I would jump up into his arms for a big hug then go down in a handstand and then he would flip my legs over to get down

10.   His goofy jokes and sense of humor and overall friendly nature

And there are many, many more! I love you, Dad! 

And here are 10 fond memories, among many, I have of Eli in his role as a father, in no particular order:

1.   Pretending the baby can talk by using a little, high voice to have the baby carry on conversations with others 

 2.  Watching him, and having his help, with changing countless diapers!

3.  Being amazed at how he allows the boys, in particular, to use him as a human punching bag and jungle gym

4.   Playing the question game so the kids can earn bites of their food at a meal

5.   Being amazed, daily, at his creativity to encourage the children to accomplish the tasks that need to be done

6.   Being grateful, daily, for his patience with the natural chaos that comes with a house full of kids

7.   The tickling games

8.   The refreshing, positive energy he brings home at dinnertime that buoys us all up

9.   His love of music he shares with all of us and how it gets the kids doing their cute and funny dance moves

10.  Falling in love with him as a father all over again as he holds his newborn child and cuddles with them, watching the sweet bond that develops between them.

I love you Eli! I am grateful you are the father of our children, and they are very blessed to call you dad! 

Happy Fathers' Day 2016

Warm hugs and slugs on the shoulder to all of you fathers out there. I got spoiled today by sleeping in until 7:45 (after getting awoken by the boys twice before), and Kira threw together my favorite breakfast for me - waffles and bacon! Best of all, Carver made me some pictures and Avey made me a very thoughtful card. I was touched and humbled earlier in the week when I learned that Avey worked especially hard over the last week to earn $5 so that she could buy me a gift from her favorite store. I'm wearing it as I type this (a Star Wars t-shirt - my first ever - awesome!). To balance things out, Hakan gave me a run for my money this morning, refusing to touch a bite of the food I made him unless he could sit in my lap and answer questions. For one of the questions, I asked, "Hakan, what is your favorite color?" He thought for a moment, and then answered, "Elephant!"
I am very grateful this Fathers' Day for each of my kids. Merritt is in a wonderful phase of pretty regular smiles as long as he's fed and rested, and the older kids are excellent reminders of what fun we have to look forward to as he develops. Avey and Carver have put forth extra effort to become friends this summer, and are doing wonderfully. Avey has actually been disappointed a few times when she went looking for Carver and found him busy with something. I am so proud of my wonderful children, and I am constantly amazed at their maturity.
I am recovering a bit from helping a family move. I'd been having some back trouble anyway, but mostly just needed to stretch a bit here and there to be just fine. I tried to take it easy at the move yesterday, but overdid it with an especially heavy and awkward dresser. It's nothing major again - I mostly just need to stretch it out periodically, but it's no fun either.
This next week is the last of the summer course I've been teaching, and then I get to work at home for most of the rest of the summer. I still have a lot of research to catch up on, but at least I can do that at times that are convenient (whatever that means) rather than scheduled.
Avey and Carver start swimming lessons tomorrow, so that should be a nice outing for them and hopefully a little more peace and quiet at home. Although, Hakan and Merritt have a way of keeping us on our toes even without the older kids...

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Cabin Fever

A few days ago I was with the three older kids at the library, trying to give them a much needed outing. It's a tough venue, because their interests are spread three directions. Avey wants to look for interesting books, Carver wants to fiddle with their iPads, and Hakan just wants to run through the aisles and occasionally pull books off the shelves.

As Hakan was perusing, he encountered a young woman working to put books back on shelves. He stopped and watched her for a moment, and when she noticed him, she said, "Hi, what's your name?" Hakan panicked for a moment, then put his palm on his chest and answered, "Uh, Carver!" 

Avey and I erupted with laughter and corrected him, "No, you are Hakan!" Although, in an age where a male can identify as a woman, and a white person can identify as a black person, maybe I should be more accepting of Hakan's wish to identify as his older brother.
We've had to become more inventive with our efforts to entertain these older kiddies lately. Most days are an uphill battle to shovel some calories into them and get them into some partially clean clothes that match well enough. Thankfully, Avey has been mostly very helpful. She's usually more than willing to hold Merritt, and otherwise has been great at entertaining the other boys. 
One big help this week was a play structure kindly handed down to us from some friends. The weather cooperated most of this week so that the kids could occupy themselves in the backyard. Carver especially enjoys playing "family," where he puts on a backpack and pretends to go to work and such. I strapped a chalkboard to the structure a few days ago, so now Avey is also using it as a schoolhouse to teach Carver how to write his name. If we can manage to keep delegating this parenting stuff to her, we might just survive.
 
The little guy has been smiling more regularly, and is certainly spending more time looking around and taking stock of everything. One of his favorite things is to wait until Kira or I get close to getting some work started, and then to fill his diaper or just start fussing for no discernible reason. Still, he makes up for his challenges with his efforts to hold up his head, and little stares of wonder. He cooed at Avey just a little while ago as she was trying to catch him smiling. We are excited for more of that soon.
We've had a lot of activity outside with our sparrow neighbors, too. Although we've had a second birdhouse out there for much longer than the first one, it was on the market all that time with no interested buyers. Finally, just this week a lovely couple made us an offer and moved in. It's been fun to watch them come and go to make their new home just how they like it. 
We've watched with much interest the development of the baby sparrows in Avey's birdhouse. We've counted three for sure, so their parents are hard at work day and night. They sure seem like they've grown, and so we are anxiously watching for when they start emerging from their home to try flying. It's funny how the birds are ready to leave the nest after just a few weeks, while Merritt can't even hold his head up in the same time. Avey's 8, and she still hasn't learned to fly - what are we doing wrong? I blame the schools.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Treading Water

Things remain busy as ever here in the Ricks household. Merritt is in an interesting cycle where it seems that one day he sleeps about 20 hours out of the day and then the next day he fusses for about 18 hours out of the day. He gets into these fits where he just can't seem to be calmed, even with a full stomach, clean diaper, and warm blanket. Fortunately, the fits don't usually last too long at one time, but they sure grate on us when we are already tired.

As if to make up for it, Merritt for sure smiled at me twice over the last two days. He doesn't do it predictably yet, but these were certainly reciprocal - he looked directly into my eyes, puzzled at first, it seemed, and then his concern slowly melted into a warm, broad grin. He knows how to play us.
Avey finished school this week, so she has been home and busy. She's still on a kick of financial independence, so in between meals and some relaxation, she begs for chores to do.  We want to keep reinforcing that attitude, so we're doing our best to keep work available. Monday, for example, she declared early in the morning that she was going to make it a relaxation day, but that lasted about 30 minutes before she started mopping, sweeping, weeding, and so on to earn a few bucks she could blow on her new favorite store (Five Below). Her latest treasures are disappearing ink, some slimy goop, and an obnoxious pen that plays various versions of "Blah blah blah." Needless to say, they have caused her and the boys much entertainment, and that works out enough for us that we'll overlook the noise (and often the mess).

We had a fun time last night when Kira realized that the water heater had stopped heating our water. Thankfully, each of the children had successfully bathed by then, but Kira suffered through a cold shower. I worked on it and could get the pilot lit, but it would not stay lit, so we had to call in somebody who knows something about water heaters. He got it back up and running this morning- apparently it was just dirty.

Carver has been working on reading and counting lately. Avey likes to help him through the counting especially, and got him to count up through 20 this week. He still seems to have some conceptual problems with quantity, however, as indicated by this anecdote; It was bedtime, but Carver insisted that he was not tired, so he and Kira were in negotiations for how long he could do something before bed. Kira firmly offered 3 minutes, which Carver quickly countered with a whine. Kira, asserting her position, then reduced her offer, "Okay, well how about 2 minutes?" Carver, apparently misunderstanding, smiled broadly as if he had won, and said, "Okay yeah, that's good!"

In other exciting news, Avey is a grandma! Kira heard the chirping of baby sparrows in Avey's newly occupied bird house a couple of days ago, and so we've enjoyed watching the busy parents retrieve food for their noisy offspring. Kira and I catch their gaze every now and then, and exchange sympathetic looks with Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow. Not much sleep happening around here, regardless of one's species.