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 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!