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...