Sunday, August 13, 2017

Single Dadding

Kira left for her personal vacation yesterday, much to everyone's dismay (except hers). Hakan seems to keep forgetting that she's gone; he keeps saying things like, "When Mommy wakes up..." I have to remind him that she is in another state for just a few days, but that she'll be back. 
As the old saying goes, when the cat's away, the mice will try to fill the sorrowful void with various activities that are new and fun. Well, I'm paraphrasing. In any case, we went out to a petting zoo!
After a bit of a drive, we made it to a little farm, which is mostly a horse ranch. We got to feed and pet the goats, sheep, chickens, turkeys, llamas, ducks, and ponies, and we admired from a little distance the enormous pigs, who are not nearly as charming as Charlotte's Web would have us believe. 
Poor Merritt probably enjoyed it the least. I had hoped he would take a small nap on the way there, but he fought it so that when we arrived he was pretty on edge. He sat in the stroller, and when we went up to the ponies, one stuck its head close to Merritt, terrifying him beyond anything I've ever seen. I quickly picked him up out of the stroller to comfort him and show him that the horses (probably) wouldn't eat him, as his older brothers have much more meat on them. He spent the rest of the trip in my arms, smiling and chuckling occasionally, but a bit overwhelmed by it all. I suppose we need to work our way up from waving at Avey's betta fish to feeding llamas with our hands. He fell asleep on the ride home and then slumbered more when we got home.
Avey seemed particularly taken with the llamas, even naming them all. There's a small chance that she'll now want a llama instead or in addition to the python she covets. She didn't waste a moment once we got in the car, immediately asking if people keep llamas as pets. I couldn't help but think of the scene in Napoleon Dynamite.
It was a nice outing, so hopefully I can keep up with their expectations for the rest of the time Kira's gone. Wish me luck! 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Feels Like Summer

[Yes, that is also the title of a Weezer song]

We have slowly recovered from our wave of illness, and so we were feeling up to a beach excursion. As I mentioned last week, Kira has been hoping to go to the sand dunes in Indiana for some time. The dunes are right alongside the shore of Lake Michigan in Indiana, so we went prepared to get wet.
The spot we ended up at was not exactly what we pictured for the sand dunes, but the beach was better than we imagined. You may recall from our trip 2 years ago that the water was far too cold for comfort, and the shore was much too rocky. Ergo, we were expecting to spend most of our time in the sand. We were pleasantly surprised to find that, although there were much larger waves than our last experience, the water was perfectly pleasant, and the shore was sandy and smooth the whole way in.
Merritt was shy about the water, so spent most of his time tasting and tossing the sand. He was caked in it for most of the trip, but he had a smile on his face most of the time, too.

Avey practically lived in the water, having a grand time braving the large waves as they crashed into her. She took out a kick board and tried letting the waves push her back into the shore, which was a lot of fun also.

Carver had tons of fun in the water, too, though the waves were a little too big for him to brave alone. Avey and he held hands for some of the time, and he otherwise held steady on Kira or me. He also made good friends with a little boy, maybe 2 years old, who cracked up at all of Carver's slapstick moves.
Kira and I mostly just tried to keep an eye on the kids at all times, but we had a great time also. It's nice to finally do something that feels like a summer activity. 

Kira leaves for her sister's in Utah this weekend, so I'll be a single daddy for a few days. I don't know who's more terrified - the kids or I. Hakan has been painfully transitioning out of a nap for a couple of weeks now, making the whole house miserable from about 3 p.m. to bedtime. Thankfully, Merritt has been mostly back on track with his night sleep. All I hope for Kira's trip is that she has an awesome time, and that my nights aren't complete nightmares. We'll see if I can post on time next week...
Merritt is clearly understanding new words and phrases. When I say, "outside," he knows to get his shoes. When he's eating and I say, "get down," he reaches for the latch on his high chair tray. He can say a few words hit-and-miss. He'll nail down "no" sometimes, usually when he's mad, and he gets pretty close to "fishy" ["wishy"] when he sees Avey's betta. He ought to be telling all sorts of interesting stories very soon.

In the meantime, wish me luck...

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sick and Tired

Our home was struck with the plague this week, or so it felt. After Hakan's fever returned Sunday night, we took him in for a strep diagnosis. We should have known that the worst was yet to come. As an ominous omen of our impending illnesses, Avey's betta fish was found lifeless in his tank on Monday morning. He had seemed less active for a couple of days before, but there was no clear sign that he was ill otherwise. We were all saddened at the loss of our newest family member, and had some important conversations about the great responsibilities that come with pet ownership, as their lives are at stake. We made a game plan for what to adjust with the next one, trying keeping the tank a little warmer, and feeding less often. 
Gill's death set the tone for the rest of the week, as one by one the rest of the family came down with symptoms similar to Hakan's, just as he was getting better. Carver never did get a fever, but had a cough that would make a cigar smoker blush. I had a day or two with some mild aches and a little cough, but nothing unbearable. Avey was about the same as Carver, but with some of my aches also. Merritt even came down with a fever, and his nose has been running like Usain Bolt. Kira, who had been on an antibiotic for something unrelated anyway, took the longest to develop symptoms, but is now dealing with a sore throat, too. 

The worst of it all for Kira and me was that we were up every hour or so for one of the nights (between Hakan and Merritt, mostly), and the nights have only slowly become less eventful. Hakan is now done with his antibiotic regimen, but the rest of the kiddies are still catching up. Merritt awoke around 4 this morning and was in a strange state, wanting to sleep, but screaming like a banshee. Naturally, today is the day that Kira gave a talk in church, and also sang a descant in a special choir piece. Thankfully, she is the type to rise to the occasion when it's required, so she nailed them both (so we hear: everyone else stayed home). 
Trying on Carver's Shorts
We did have some fun moments amid all of the weeping and wailing. Avey got a new fish, Scales, on Thursday, and he is doing very well so far. Kira took the two older boys to see a fireworks display put on by our township, keeping them up way past their bedtime, but they enjoyed it despite coming home worn out. Carver passed out as soon as his head hit the pillow, and Hakan buzzed around for a while. It seems to be the way he manages his exhaustion.

Avey also attended a birthday party for her best friend on Monday, which included a pool. She would never have left if she could have chosen. She also got an early birthday present in the mail. We let her decide whether to open it or wait, and she took the path of no return. Her Nana sent a slightly used tablet that she never uses, because Avey's stopped working several months ago. She was thrilled to get this one, and even set up an account on it for Carver to use when she is not using it. I don't know how we're going to top that in September...
Playing in the Puddle
Avey also got invited by her best friend to see a movie when a schedule conflict left them with an extra ticket. We're not jealous, though.

Everyone's symptoms are getting under control now, so maybe things will calm down, or maybe they will explode as the kids make up for lost time...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Disappointment, Thy Name is Night Sleep

We were thrilled in vain this week when Merritt's first upper incisor broke through the gums. Kira and I collectively breathed a sigh of relief, thinking that perhaps teething pain was to blame for Merritt's fitful nighttime slumber. 

Alas, 'twas not so. In fact, he squirmed and screamed in bursts about every hour, forcing us to get up with him in shifts. Even sleeping between us in our bed, which usually tranquilizes him, was ineffective. 
I have wondered for some time whether he is just uncomfortable in his bed (a travel crib, for the sake of size), which seems very stiff to me. Our bed is much softer, which may be why he prefers it. In a completely unexperimental approach, I put together his crib and rearranged some furniture to make it fit. The mattress to his crib is much softer, so I thought perhaps lying thereupon would squelch some of his night discomfort. Last night was the first trial, and he did very well...until about 3 a.m., at which point he joined us.
Snakes on the Brain and Face
Kira has had high hopes of making a sip or two of lemonade out of our lemony summer, so she arranged for us to head to some sand dunes in Indiana yesterday. The Fates determined that such was not our destiny, for Hakan came down with a fever and sore throat the night before our excursion. As it was the same night that Merritt kept us up for most of the time, we resigned to staying home with some relief. Still, Kira took the older two kids to see the movie adaptation of one of Avey's favorite book series, Captain Underpants. They enjoyed it thoroughly, so the day was not a total loss. We plan to try the dunes next weekend, but don't tell any bacteria our plan.
Hakan is feeling much better today, although he still sounds like a chain-smoker. He should be back to his usual self in another day or so.
While I'm complaining, I should point out that the battery to my laptop died abruptly this week, making working at the library more challenging. I have to find a good spot and stick to it, because I can't move again without shutting off my computer. The new one is in the mail.

Today, while I was managing the two younger boys at home, prepping Merritt for a nap, I went to find his pacifier. Usually, when it is not in an obvious place, it can be found on the floor near his favorite playing spots. After about 30 minutes of searching and re-searching, its location still eluded me. I was on the verge of panic, as he is not likely to sleep without it, but he did eventually accept an older model we had stored away. We still do not know where his original is, so this is the mystery of the decade. Perhaps it has gone where all of the sock mates go.

Carver has an odd new habit lately. Kira or I will ask him a simple "yes or no" question, and rather than simply answering with a single word, like parsimony would suggest, he comes up with a set of signals with which to broadcast his decision. For example, yesterday I asked Carver whether I could interest him in some food. He looked at me for a moment, and then instructed me, "If the answer is yes, then I will make this signal [sweeping his arm up and to his left]. If the answer is no, then I will make this signal [sweeping his arm horizontally]." He then made the corresponding gesture, and I had to not only try to remember how it was interpreted, but also what my question was in the first place.

Needless to say, after a week such as this one, Kira is looking forward to her solo trip to Utah.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Betta Watch Out!

Ever since she could talk, Avey has been asking for a pet. Because Kira and I are not really the type to keep pets, we told Avey that she would have to prove that she is responsible enough to take care of it. We set up the deal that if she could keep a plant alive for 6 months, then she could try a fish, then a small mammal, and so on, working her way up to whatever.

She finally passed the first round this week, so she is now taking care of a betta fish, whom she named "Gill."
She's been doing very well so far, keeping up a regular feeding schedule, and learning how to change the water. She's also taught him a trick; she puts a little drop of water about half an inch above the water line, and then Gill watches it and jumps up to touch it, making the drop fall into the tank. She's also had a great time decorating Gill's little home. She may need to consider charging her brothers money to come view the fish - Merritt especially loves to see it, making the "fish" sign each time. 
A more depressing turn of events is Hakan's napping, or lack thereof. He seems to want to transition out of a midday nap, but his body is just not ready. As far as his body is concerned, it wants to wake up around 6 a.m., nap around 1 p.m. for 90 minutes or so, and then go to bed at 8:30 or 9 p.m. We just can't stand the thought of having him up that late, so we try to push his nap earlier, make it shorter, or sometimes he just wants to skip it altogether. So far, the result is that he has a hair trigger in the afternoons, and then bedtime looks like the high-security wing of a mental asylum. We're sure that the whole situation is exacerbated by our weening him from the pacifier, but we dare not revert to that vice. 

Yesterday, Kira thought she would try taking Hakan for a drive to see if he would fall asleep in the car seat. Carver wanted to go along, too. Of course, what happened was that Hakan stayed awake the whole time, and Carver fell asleep for a few minutes. When Hakan went to sleep first that night, and Carver got a few minutes to himself before his normal bed time, he thought it was a really special treat. He went to bed at 7 like always, but said, "Wow, I got to stay up really late because of my nap!" I declined to comment.
Merritt is as adorable as ever. He has taken to shouting with glee, "DAAADAAA!" whenever I come home from my spurts of work at the library. He continues to mimic sounds, and shows clearer understanding of language with each day. Last week, he brought me one of his shoes, and I told him to bring me his other shoe so I could put it on him. He looked around to find it, and sure enough, brought it right over. Before we know it, he'll be ignoring us entirely, just like his older siblings.

Kira had a call from another potential client this week, so we're hoping to have that work out. I am doing my best to get out far ahead of the work for the coming semester, and my summer course is almost running itself. Otherwise, we enjoy the weather when we can.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Happy Birthday, Mommy!

Today is the anniversary of Kira's birth! We spent yesterday doing our version of celebrating, which has toned down quite a bit since we were childless. Kira started by taking a trip to the Chicago Temple: one of the few places where she can get a few minutes of peace and quiet. When she got back in the afternoon, we all gathered around the television to watch Beauty and the Beast, which we all enjoyed. We had to pause it in the middle to make sure the kids all ate their dinner and got cake before bed, and then we finished it once they were all asleep. Today has been pretty typical, but she's attempting a very long nap, so that ought to be special. Maybe when the kids are a little older and we have a little more cash lying around, we can send her to a spa. Hopefully, she'll enjoy her upcoming break in August when she heads to Utah.
We also enjoyed celebrating our nation's independence this week! We were invited to a large gathering at some friends' house, so spent the day getting our food contribution ready, and wrestling with naps and meals like any other day. By the time it came, I opted to stay home and try to get Merritt for a nap, as I was pretty wiped out and am not much one for chit-chat. Merritt ended up declining a nap, but we had a good time in the back yard. 
Carver and Hakan have decided to be friends most days, which makes for a much more pleasant home. They still have their bouts of carnage, but mostly, they've made real efforts to be chums. 
Carver and Avey finished their swimming lessons on Friday, much to their relief and delight. They both made a lot of progress, impressing us both and hopefully themselves. I am especially glad that Carver made it all the way through. Avey seems to understand the point of hard work - it eventually pays off, and at least it feels nice to accomplish something you weren't sure you could do - but Carver's nature is not so adventurous. He crumbles pretty easily at some new experiences, like food, and when the going gets tough, he likes to lie down on the floor until it passes by. Something may have shifted in him with swimming, because after his meltdown last week, he worked at it a couple of days and then advanced to the next skill station. By the end of the lesson on Friday, he was probably ready to move on to another station yet. We sure hope that he felt the rewards of hard work, so that it will keep paying off.
That's about all of the news from our week. See you next time!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Biting Through Barriers (to Maturity)

Our lives trek on through the chaos. Perhaps the biggest news of the week was that Hakan finally [hesitantly] gave up his pacifier. It had been his loyal companion for naps, nights, and many a minor injury since exiting the womb. It will be fondly remembered. 

He had already chewed through one several months ago, and made his way to the backup. After a lot of hard work, he had gotten it down to a thin strand of silicone, which finally broke earlier in the week. 
When he first showed me, he seemed almost proud that he had finally chewed through it, but shortly after that, reality set in. We told it "goodbye," and he made it through the night very well. Each nap or nighttime since then, however, he brings it up. We explain that it's gone, and that it was a very good friend for while he was getting bigger, but that now he is becoming more like Carver and Avey, who don't use binkies, and less like Merritt, who does use a binky. He complains very little, so we think this will turn out okay. 
The transition may have even spurred some other maturity - when getting dressed for church today, he buttoned his shirt all by himself! We keep hoping that he'll be ready to use the potty soon.
A few of the days this week, the kids miraculously decided to get along. We had a family discussion about how home is supposed to be a place where peace and love are abundant, and that we did not want people to feel like they were going to be picked on while in our home. We don't know if that made a difference or not, but at least they seemed to stop actively trying to traumatize one another for a few of the days this week. Carver and Hakan started some new favorite game where they play "family," and Carver is a grandpa.

Merritt's next tooth is still sitting right below the surface, not yet actually through. Fortunately, it does not seem like he's affected too much by it at present. He had been joining Kira and me in our bed early in the mornings most nights (falling back asleep, thankfully), but has not needed to do so in the last few days.

Avey and Carver have been doing swimming lessons each morning this week, and will continue into this coming week. Avey's been progressing nicely through the stages, but Carver has been quite comfortable in the same place. He decided on Thursday that the water would be too cold, so he refused to go. Kira and I debated our next move, and decided to offer him a reward (doughnut) if he went, and I had a crucial conversation with him about the importance of doing hard things. He eventually went (probably more for the doughnut than my pep talk), and came home quite proud that he put his head under the water three times (supervised, of course).

We're looking forward to the celebration of Independence Day and Kira's birthday this week. Maybe we'll take a break from all the feedings and diaper changes to get a breath of fresh air. Happy Fourth to all!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Cold Front at the Ricks Residence

We had another fun week full of clogged drains and sibling rivalries, peppered with a little bit of sleep. It wasn't all that bad, actually. We had the kitchen sink working fine for a few days and then the clog came back. I finally swallowed my pride and called the landlord about a plumber. He said that the pipe is very old, so the clogs are bound to continue, although he cleared it out well enough that it should last some time. The landlords are probably going to replace it in the near future. Nice to know that it wasn't that we were doing something weird. 
The kids have been hot or cold with each other. They are either best buddies or worst enemies (or separated by walls), and it's almost impossible to predict until it's happening. I thought the heat might have something to do with it, but then yesterday was a gorgeous 74 degrees (Fahrenheit), and Carver and Avey could not seem to coexist. At this point I just figure we're the subject of some strange voodoo training project, and it will eventually end, or they will move out. 
We even got them out of the house for a good long while, but it did not seem to quell their cabin-feverish behavior. There was a big picnic for Kira's ward at a park, so we all enjoyed the pleasant weather. Unfortunately, it may have been a little too pleasant; there is a splash pad at that park, and naturally the boys were dying to get drenched. We packed their swim gear just in case they had their little hearts set on it, but we tried to explain that the cool air would just make the water feel cold. Hakan was the first to metaphorically dive in, and had the time of his life for about 10 minutes before succumbing to the cool. Carver followed suit. Avey thought better of it, and read a book. Merritt enjoyed running around in the puddles, but steered clear of the sprays as much as he could. After a while, the older kids all played in the sand of the volleyball court.
I'm not sure why all of my pictures and videos from the week are of Merritt only. I must not have been fast enough with the camera in the rare moments that the other three were getting along. I will redouble my efforts to find them in the coming week.

I spent some time experimenting with our network to see what was causing our wireless to go out every now and then. I figured it out and got that repaired, so I am pretty thrilled to have that taken care of.

There's not much other noteworthy news, but more is sure to follow...

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day Tribute 2017 By: Kira

Wow! Eli has been an A+ dad for 9.5 years now! I may have covered it all in past posts, but nonetheless here goes!
Eli is an awesome dad. Each of our kids at the dinner table tonight told him things they like/love about him. They mostly talked about how he plays with them, chases them, and is a human jungle gym. He truly is a very good playmate, both with physical games and with quizzing/question games at the dinner table.
He rarely explodes with anger, unlike me, and is so good at lightening the mood. He calms my extremes and craziness, for which I am very grateful. In addition, he does most of the dishes, most of the trash, all the haircuts and baths, etc. Truly, if you add it up, I'm not really sure what I do around here!
I am humbled and grateful and in awe of this man, the fabulous father to our children.
With love, Kira
PS I opted for honoring my father differently this year than on this blog, but he's still awesome too!

Happy Father's Day 2017

I am beginning to resemble a broken record, I know, when I say that this was a busy week. Quick tangent - does one still use that simile or is it too dated? Perhaps I should say, "I resemble a corrupted .mp3," although that doesn't necessarily repeat itself, so maybe we need a new figure of speech. I digress...

In any case, this was a busy week. I spent nearly all of Tuesday at Costco with Avey and Carver. It's a good 20 minutes away for us anyway, and then we had to restock just about all of our reserves. This last semester I went to another campus on Tuesdays that is right next to a Costco, so I would just pick up whatever we needed each week, but because that convenience is gone for now, we let our resources get to bare bones, as it were, before payday. Avey and Carver wanted to come on the long and boring trip because of the legendary cheap frozen yogurt they serve, along with enormous pizza slices (I split it between the two, and Carver couldn't even finish his.). We are now fully stocked again: both our cupboards and our tummies. 

We also had a couple of days with some friends Carver's and Hakan's ages. Their family is moving, so Kira offered to have their oldest two boys over so that the parents could concentrate on packing. The boys had a blast, and we did it again on Saturday while I went to help them load the truck. All of the extra noise and general chaos wore us old people out, but we were glad to help.
As Avey and I are both home for most of the summer, we both seem to be in a mood to make projects. I replaced our screen door stopper, because it would always bang shut, which we feared would wake sleeping people. After a few adjustments, now it closes so quietly it's hard to notice. Avey has a mind to get her desk more presentable. Now that she cleaned it for her aunt's visit (weeks ago), she wants to paint it her favorite color (aqua). She is even thinking of painting the top surface with whiteboard upon which she could doodle. Now that our week of prior commitments is over, maybe we can get to that.

The boys all seem a bit restless. Hakan seems like he needs an adventure each day, and so he resorts to pushing Carver's buttons. I think we may need to get that kid into a gymnastics class or something so that he can be wild and tumble where people aren't napping, and who also want to tumble. Carver plays with him well when he's in the mood, but they just annoy each other when he's not in the mood. Merritt tries so hard to be like one of the big boys, but often just gets in Hakan's way. He'll see Carver and Hakan taking turns tumbling on the couch, doing somersaults and such, and he wants to try too. The problem is that he's likely to just roll right off the couch and onto the floor, so he needs constant supervision to be kept safe, and out of his brothers' way. Maybe when they're all older, they can go do yard work together for entertainment (Don't burst my bubble on Father's Day.).

This coming week promises to be a little easier. The weather should be cooler than usual, and we have fewer obligations on the schedule. I'm sure the little ones will find a way to make it interesting, though.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Warming Up To Summer

Avey is glad to be done with school. She and I discovered how to check out eBooks through our library directly onto her computer, so now she's zipping through them like they're nothing. She's also working hard to stay in her pajamas for the entire duration of the summer break, so we'll see how that works out. 
We had a heat wave come through in the last couple of days, so we're realizing how spoiled we've been with the mild winter and cool spring. We're avoiding turning on the oven at almost all costs, and the air conditioner is running almost constantly, but we still seem to be too hot most days. To try and cool off, we've taken the kids to our local splash pad, and done what we can in our own backyard. It's amazing the games one can imagine with little more than a hose, a wading pool, and a heat-driven desperation. 
Otherwise, we've been dealing with a lot of house issues. We've been holding ants at bay for several weeks now. They found some way into our dining area, which is a real problem because we can't seem to keep food off of the floor for more than a couple of minutes. I sprayed a perimeter, and they were gone for about a week at a time, but just in the last couple of days they seem impervious to the same spray. I've been trying to find where they are coming in with little success, but I think I've narrowed it down. No sign of them today, so they may be waiting for me to let my guard down...

Monday of last week I finally got the stupid clog out of the kitchen sink. It was my fourth attempt with liquid clog remover, but this time it did the trick. It lasted a good long while, but of course there's a clog today [sigh].

I am finally feeling like I am getting some headway on my course prep, so that's nice. I was asked to attend a meet-and-greet on campus earlier in the week, where I checked out my new office. It is smaller than my old one, but still plenty large and nice. I'll move into it sometime in August. There were recently some personnel cuts at my university, and there were some fears that my contract would not be renewed, but those were quashed this week when I received official confirmation that I was not at risk of losing my position. That does not mean I'm guaranteed a renewed contract, but at least I missed the wave of layoffs.

Kira scheduled a trip to visit her sisters in Utah for a well-deserved and overdue vacation. She's completed work with one set of clients and is advertising for more, so we hope to get that running soon.

Tensions between the kids are high, but there have been no hospital visits thus far, so that's a plus.

Sunday, June 4, 2017


I am presently struggling to compose a sentence, thanks very much to our youngest. Last night was his worst in a very long time - he went to bed early, and relatively easily, but then tossed and turned starting at about 11. Kira tried nursing, then we tried pain medicine, then I rocked him, then I took him for a drive. He feel asleep on the drive and even let me move him from the car seat to his bed without waking. That was about 1:30 a.m. After about 5 minutes in his bed, he popped right up whining. Kira nursed again and finally got him down until about 6 a.m. You might think that he would nap extra long this morning to make up for it, but you'd be sorely mistaken. Fortunately, he's built up a reserve of adorableness points with us, so we'll let this one run its course.
Summer officially reared its head this week, with mixed reactions. Kira and I are a little panicked about the heat's toll on our own energy levels, but the kids are pretty thrilled at the new possibilities of entertainment that involve water. To commemorate the heat wave, I took the three oldest to our nearby splash pad and playground, where blasts were had by all.
Carver, who is usually our most hesitant child, was quite wary of how cold the water felt in contrast to the hot air, but he eventually got lost in the adrenaline of it all. They all took breaks to warm up again on the playground, where Hakan showed off his upper body strength. I'm not saying I'm unimpressed, but when you weigh about as much as a loaf of bread, it's not that hard to do. Still, he's brave to try new things, as usual.
Throughout the week, my biggest headache has been a clog in the kitchen sink. Usually, a little liquid drain remover will make pretty short work of it, but I've tried that 3 times now with no success. I even took a trip to the hardware store to buy a 20' tool to remove the clog, but the way our pipes are laid out, I couldn't get it more than 5' down. I suppose I should be less stubborn and just call someone.
This is Avey's last week of school before her break, and then she gets to try and avoid her brothers for the rest of the summer. We'll see how well that works out...

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Auntie Hannah

This week was full of fun and devoid of sleep. My sister visited for the celebration of Hakan's birthday, so we tried to maximize our time with her. We spent most of Monday acclimating to the change. The older three basically tackled her, with the two older boys fighting to monopolize her attention. She was patient and generous, even though she must have been exhausted from her early and long flight.
Watching the Outdoors
On Tuesday, she and Kira attended the LDS temple in the area. Traffic and travel kept them gone for several hours while I kept the kids from descending into complete anarchy, and then we enjoyed some of Chicago's finest stuffed pizza for our dinner.
Relaxing at the Conservatory
Wednesday became a bit of a down day while we adults tried to squeeze a movie in between the feeding flurries and hailstorms of poopy diapers. We watched Split, which left us all a little terrified and very much in awe of James McAvoy's skill as an actor.
Hannah and Hakan in the Rain
Thursday was where the real fun began, as we took Avey out of school a little early so that we could all check out the Garfield Park Conservatory. That was one of the biggest highlights of the week because, in addition to all of the nifty plants and the large pond the kids tested out, they had a dozen or so baby goats frolicking on the grounds. We spent a lot of our time there, feeding the adults (the young ones were a little too shy) leaves and grass through the fence. It was so much fun to watch them; Merritt seemed to think they were dogs, as he kept making his little barking noise while he tried to soak it all in.
He Did Not Want A Picture
Of course, Friday was Hakan's birthday! We got the boys all ready after Avey was gone for school, and headed off to the forest preserve we had most recently enjoyed. Hakan had been so heartbroken when we had to leave that time, and my sister wanted to check one out, so we thought it would be a great activity to go. Carver was very hesitant to go, and understandably after he cut his toe the last time. We made sure everybody had close-toed shoes this time, and everyone had a blast - we even saw a turtle out there in the wild!

After Hakan's nap and Avey's return from school, everyone but Kira and Merritt (napping) left for Hakan's favorite restaurant (McDonald's) for his birthday meal. We returned home to cake and gift opening. He loved everything.

Later in the evening there began a downpour of rain, so most of us went out to play in it. That was probably Hakan's favorite part of the day - splashing in big puddles, getting as wet as he wanted, all hand-in-hand with his Auntie.

Saturday we made a quick trip to the pet store. Avey really wanted to hold a snake, so we all took turns passing one around, and the worker told us all about what nice pets ball pythons are for kids (thanks a lot). Avey can't wait until Merritt is old enough that Kira will let her have a python, and she's excited to take care of a fish to prove that she is responsible enough. We'll open that chapter in another month or so.

My sister left that afternoon to everyone's dismay. We enjoyed having her around as a calming presence, an extra pair of hands, and as a fresh set of eyes for how cute our kids can be. Hakan no doubt misses the extra one-on-one time, but we're sure to see her again before too long.

This next week we're back to normal life, for better or worse.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

On Shoes and Shoos

We are all tentatively over our colds from weeks ago, though it seems that a few of us have some seasonal allergies that are keeping noses runny and such. Even though we can't complain, you can rest assured that most of us will. 

It felt like a trying week. We shuffled Tuesday around so that Kira and I could go to an appointment together, checking out a doctor nearby. It turned out to be a disappointment, but seemed to throw off the next couple of days too. Merritt has been getting up once each night in the middle of the night, so Kira and I are both even more tired than usual. I shouldn't complain, because I do not have the means to feed him at night (he still refuses a bottle), but I have some weird issue with getting back to sleep sometimes after interruption. We hope there are teeth or some other temporary thing to blame... 
I went into campus for probably the last time for the next few months. The psychology department is moving to another building, so I packed up my office before and after a meeting with a student. I'm a bit bummed because I had just moved offices a year ago, and very much liked this one. I don't know what I'll end up with in the new place, but I have a feeling it will be little more than a broom closet.
As if matching the mood in the home, the weather turned rainy and violently windy for a few days this week. That restricted the activity areas for the kids so that their most attractive game was often seeing who could drive Kira to madness more efficiently (it was a 3-way tie). I have been working from home in my basement "office" most days, so at least I'm nearby in case the screams get too out-of-hand.

I'm in a pretty good place before my online course starts in another week. I'm trying to take this whole next week off so that we can focus on enjoying my sister's company.

In preparation for her auntie's arrival, Avey cleaned her room. To our amazement and astonishment, she also cleared the fire hazard off of her desk; it's been buried under all manner of half-finished art projects, art supplies, knickknacks, and dead rodents (so I assume) for most of the time we've lived in this house. I suspect it has less to do with her appreciation of orderliness and more to do with now being able to use the desk as a home for her computer so that she can hole up in there and avoid her little brothers. Either way, we are just happy it's clean!
As children are wont to do, ours keep growing. It came to a head when we could not find any suitable summer footwear for Merritt, and Hakan's usual gear became uncomfortably tight. We were faced with the tough decision to either sand down their feet to a more workable size, or purchase shoes that would accommodate their growth. After some lengthy debate, I relented and we chose the latter option.

Avey also needed some shoes for various settings, so we took the whole family to the shoe store. One might think that we had learned what a bad idea that is by now, but one would be mistaken. We split up the fittings, but needed at least 4 other adults to keep occupied the kids not immediately trying on shoes. The boys were all tired, so naturally resorted to pushing each others' buttons just short of the point where felony charges could be filed. Suffice it to say that we eventually departed the store both with shoes and what little of our dignity remained.

My sister arrives tomorrow, so we are all scrambling around trying to make the house look like a place capable of sustaining human life. We're so excited to have her here!

Sunday, May 14, 2017


A very happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there! But really, it is a happier day for us children who are fortunate enough to have such wonderful people in our lives. 

We had a slightly less hectic week now that the semester is over. I was able to help get kids fed and clothed most days before heading to "work" in the basement. I am doing my first ever online course this summer, so I am working on recording narrated lectures and working out all of the tricks with the online settings so that by the first day of class it will just run on its own and I'll check in to do a little grading throughout the summer. 
We spent yesterday afternoon filling our flower pots with some lovely flowers. Each of us has our own pot to deck out (Merritt and I are sharing one), so we all went to the flower store and chose some that caught our fancy, then we tried very hard to keep Merritt from destroying our work as we planted them.
He got a few bites of the soil, but we kept him away from the flowers pretty well. Hopefully he will let them live for a little while.
Hakan had a few funny moments this week. At one meal, he was starting to explain something to me that he had seen in a movie or something - I never actually found out. As he was trying to explain it, he seemed to lose his train of thought, so he stopped and sighed, then asked me, "Dad, what am I talking about?"

Last night, the kids and I were sitting on the couch and got talking about graduate school for some reason. I mentioned that I had done 6 years of graduate school, and then the older two and I talked about what it was like. Hakan decided that he would pipe in, and offered, "I got a banana from the store!" Avey and I couldn't stop laughing for a while after that one.

Avey has decided that she will buy a large snake when she's 12 (we won't let her get one until Merritt is a little older). I bet that she'll be more interested in boys and friends by then, but keep your fingers crossed.

Merritt is a real chatterbox lately, often babbling as if he's actually saying something. He still spends most of his time trying to get into areas and things that are off limits, including the bathroom, this computer, and any electrical outlets in the house.

Hakan is working on being patient with his younger sibling. He has almost no tolerance for the little guy. Luckily, he's safe as long as he does not directly threaten any toy that Hakan is using, or violate his personal space.

Carver is getting used to his glasses quickly, and so are we. He and Avey are getting along better most days, sometimes excluding Hakan from their games (but he's been such a pill that it's kind of his fault). He's excited for when it's warm enough to splash around in the water outside.

Avey's counting down the days until she's out of school, and we are all counting down the days until my sister comes to visit. In the meantime, we are all enjoying our gorgeous weather!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Smoke and Lenses

Plenty is going on here at the Ricks household. I finished the semester, so now have to simply upload all of the grades and I can start worrying about other things. I attended commencement on Friday, which was rather strange. It was nice to see so many of my students walk across the stage, sad to lose so much of my morning for the ceremony, and strange to have so many people on the streets of Chicago congratulate me because I was in the robes. I wasn't sure what to say, as I was not graduating, so I just smiled and thanked them. I suppose I should be flattered that I can still pass as a graduate student. 

Both Avey and Carver got their glasses this week. Avey's are a slightly different shape from her old ones, with more purple. She got transition lenses, so is learning how to deal with the dark lenses for a few minutes after coming inside. 

Carver has been excited to show his glasses off. He looks about 5 years older now that he's got them.
We had a bit of a scare on Friday. I was working from the local library while Kira was home with the two youngest boys. She noticed a strange smell, like something was burning. She did not find any smoke, or any obvious source, but the smell was still there. She told the landlady and me about it, so we tried to figure out what to do, and the landlady just called the non-emergency number for the fire department. They brought out a truck and everything, arriving just before Kira got home from picking Carver up from preschool. They found no traces of natural gas or carbon monoxide, but we did some troubleshooting and could not get the furnace to turn on. We figured something had shorted out with the thermostat or the furnace. The HVAC guy came and, sure enough, something on the circuit board for the furnace had shorted and melted. He got it fixed that day, but the smell lingered for about another 24 hours. We're glad it didn't turn out to be something worse!
We enjoyed Avey's last concert of the school year this week. We took the whole family, which may have been a mistake because Carver started melting down as soon as we left for home. Avey did a great job, and because the concert was on May the Fourth, Star Wars Day, Their first song was the "Imperial March" from the movies, and they had the lights low and red or blue glow sticks attached to their bows to imitate light sabers. The conductors used a green and red light saber as their batons, too.

I'd had a bee in my bonnet for some time now to convert the boys' beds into bunk beds. It would simultaneously free up space in their room to move some of the toys from our living area to their den, give them something novel to enjoy, and get them used to the sleeping arrangement in case Merritt is ready move into their room with them in the next several months. So, I made the transition yesterday. It's worked out well so far, but I'm a little nervous that they will try jumping from the top bunk soon.

Kira and I went on a rare date last night, thanks to a generous neighbor who volunteered her time to babysit. We chose to check out a shooting range nearby. It's an indoor range, which neither of us had ever tried, but we had a grand time.

Avey is counting down the days until she's out of school, and we are all counting down the days until my sister comes to visit!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Merritt's Birthday Party

We were a couple of days early, but we celebrated Merritt's birthday yesterday. Due to lack of our energy and brainpower, and Merritt's ignorance and access to tons of toys from his older siblings, we kept the gifts very simple. I baked him a cake, which Kira then frosted, in line with his current dietary repertoire, except with a lot of powdered sugar. He hesitantly explored the mass of goo in front of him, seemingly disgusted by the stickiness of it all. After a taste, he shuddered at the burst of sweetness, and then began to reduce the cake to mush.
Still, he had a lot of fun when we started singing the birthday song, and he realized it was for him. We all enjoyed normal cupcakes to show our support for his aging, and opened a few gifts that he explored, more interested in their taste than their function. 

As if Merritt's special day weren't enough, Carver came up with some big news this week, too. Kira took Avey and Carver to the optometrist yesterday for a checkup. Avey was due for one, and Carver has to have one before he begins Kindergarten in the fall. He came up slightly farsighted, so they ordered him a pair of glasses! We'll be sure to post some photos once they've arrived. 
Colors by Avey
Avey has been working hard to earn money. She regularly empties the dishwasher now, which is a huge relief to my duties around the home. She has also been helpful in feeding Merritt, freeing us adults up for other chores. We hope that her work ethic persists into adulthood.

Hakan is as busy as ever. He found a long, silky white glove in the dress-up clothes this week: probably something that went with a wedding dress. He has taken an unusually strong interest in it, putting it on his right hand, and then systematically holding items with that hand.

He had an especially funny moment a few days ago. I was feeding Merritt, and I gave him some drops of Vitamin D in a little dropper. Hakan, who was watching, casually asked, "Is that poison?" I think that he just got the word mixed up with "medicine," but it was a very funny moment.

Kira's had more phone trouble this week. Her phone had been acting strangely, but then she dropped it in no particularly brutal way, with its case on, and the screen popped off. Now, she can usually see the screen to read messages and notifications, but she can't always unlock her phone to actually use it for, you know, phone calls and such. She's ordered a new one, scheduled to arrive this week. This will be a nice mess to have behind us.

That cold that had struck down a few of us has now made its way through the entire family. It's mostly the boys who are still nursing runny noses, but we're nearly there.

I have one more class to teach Monday, and then it's finals. I made the very wise decision to have all of the essays due this week, so that I am all done grading them already. I will be happy to have this semester behind me; I had one class do group projects, and this is the week when they find out how the other members rated their contributions, so I'm looking forward to a whole mess of angry or desperate emails as the students learn a life lesson. It's fun to be a professor.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Sick Hits the Fan

I know. Surprise, surprise - the Rickses are sick again. How on earth could six people sharing the same space get sick? Two of us regularly leave the house to get exposed to illnesses from other people, and then the youngest 3 do not practice very good hygiene when it comes to germs, and the oldest two of us have compromised immunity what with our lack of regular sleep and all. 

Kira was the first to catch this illness earlier in the week. She's had clogged sinuses, which has led to headaches and ear aches. She's arguably had it the worst of all of us. Hakan and Merritt both came down with the stuffy nose as well, but do not seem to have it quite as bad as Kira. Avey, Carver, and I have sore throats, but nothing too debilitating. Merritt made sure to let us know how bad he felt on Thursday night, waking up about every 20 to 90 minutes, crying like he'd just learned that [spoiler alert] Dumbledore dies. He's been making up for it in naps since then, at least. 
One thing that hasn't helped reduce the headaches in the house is that Merritt is into a screaming game recently. Carver or Avey will play hide-and-seek with him in our kitchen, where one can run around in a circle around one wall. They surprise him at one of the doorways, and he will scream at the top of his lungs in delight, surprised every time. It's adorable, but so loud. 
Thankfully, the weather remains mild, so that the kids can enjoy the outdoors together rather than murder each least for a while. They've been playing games together outside, usually where Avey comes up with a scenario, deciding who is which character, and then basically walking the boys through their roles. Carver is usually perfectly compliant, and Hakan will at least stick around to enjoy all of the fun. Merritt just seems to like the new place to explore, complete with leaves and dirt to taste-test.
I've been in a pretty good place for the last week. This is the last full week of classes, and I am nearly all caught up. I have a doctoral student who is about to propose her dissertation, and so that will take off a little pressure to have done. I submitted a manuscript for review after working on it for the whole semester, and I'm getting set up for my summer courses. I'm also very much looking forward to the summer - my sister is coming to visit in about 4 weeks, and now that we won't have a brand new baby, maybe we will get the chance to enjoy the outdoors a little more than last year!
We commemorated my younger brother's passing yesterday. It was harder on me than most years, and I'm not sure why. I think it has something to do with the few minutes I had to dedicate to thinking about Jesse; they were when my kids were outside playing blissfully. I couldn't stop thinking how my two youngest were born after Jesse left us, and how he would have loved to get to know them. The older two have come such a long way since his passing, that I'm sure they would be great friends, too.

Kira and I will celebrate our twelfth anniversary this week, although the plans are still a bit up-in-the-air. It's simultaneously hard to believe it's been so long, and hard to believe it's been so short with all that we've experienced! We have a lot to reflect upon, and a lot to which we can look forward.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Basket Cases

Gorgeous spring weather arrived just in time for Easter (or vice versa). Avey was home from school on Friday for a scheduled day off, and so Kira reserved the afternoon to dye eggs for Easter. Naturally, the kids could not stand to wait to go and hunt for them, so we had an impromptu hunt in our backyard for a few minutes, followed by a sugar rush. 

We were also invited to an Easter get-together on Saturday at a nearby forest preserve. It was a lot of fun, aside from the wind that kept blowing food and plates away, the lost bouncy ball, the thorny plants that got Merritt and me, and the cut toe that was gushing blood... 
Hakan and Carver fell in love with a little puddle where they could throw in sticks and rocks. It was just a gathering of rain water, so there were no fish to scare or anything. As they were playing and pretending to fish, Carver thought he'd step around to get a better reach, and stepped on an old glass bottle left by one of the local drunk litterers (dime-a-dozen around here). He had, of course, ignored my advice on wearing close-toed shoes for the mud, so as the glass cracked under his weight, there was nothing to protect his bare toes in his sandals. 

The wound was small, but bled quite a bit. Carver reacted like he had but moments to live. I carried him back to the picnic tables, cleaned the wound and had him hold a paper towel against it while I retrieved our first-aid kit in the car. By the time I got back, the bleeding had stopped, and Carver seemed to have made peace with his maker, for he was much calmer. I got him fixed up with a bandage, and then he limped around like he'd been mauled by a bear. He forgot his wound after a few minutes, though: we could tell because he ran around like nothing had happened. 
We had a scare Friday night after I had tried to update the software on Kira's phone. It has been glitching lately, so I thought perhaps an update would help. Instead, Apple erased the existing operating system and then said it was unable to update her phone. We were left with a very expensive paperweight. I tried just about everything else I could think of to no avail, so we called it a night. The next morning, I tried the same things and voila: it worked. Although we are relieved to have it working again, the process does not appear to have solved the functional problems, so we are gearing up for its slow and agonizing demise. 
The summer is nearing, but still feels so far away that we are all feeling some anxiety, it seems. I am in between feeling panicked about being ready for the summer courses and excited about finishing up this semester. I prepared a new course this past semester and thought I'd try having the students do a group project. That has turned into more drama than I get paid for, so I may need to seriously rethink it in the future. It's mostly just two groups who are having interpersonal issues, but what a pointless mess!
Kira had no clients show up this week, which was sort of nice to not have to get all ready, and nice for me to have a little more time to work on my stuff, but it was a little disappointing for her to not get out and talk to someone about something other than diapers, naps, and sharing toys. Tomorrow is on track to be better, at least.

This week looks to be a fairly typical one. Saturday marks the 4th anniversary of my little brother's passing, so we may do something special in his memory. He'd be proud to learn that Avey and Carver have both become interested in the Super Nintendo, so maybe we'll play that a little in his honor.

Before we know it, Merritt will have a birthday, but that's not something I'm willing to process right now, so have a great week!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Master Merritt

Merritt dominates the news this week. Since he started officially walking last week, he's been waddling around the hallways with a big grin on his face like he's hot stuff. He's keeping us busy with his newfound maturity, because it seems that he's also reaching higher and getting more daring. For example, he's always had a love for our remote controls, but he has gotten especially possessive of them lately. Maybe it's just that his grip is tighter than ever, but he holds onto them like a wolverine would hold onto a cheeseburger (so I imagine). With his increasing reach, we've had to find new places to hide them, and then struggle to keep track. 
He's also become more dangerous to have loose near the bathroom. He loves splashing water, so the toilet is especially intriguing to him. In the past, we've been able to deter him simply by keeping the lid down, but as his strength and curiosity wax, he's been working on lifting the lid. He can't quite get it open, but then he often squishes his little hands in his attempts, so we have to keep the bathroom door shut all the time for his own safety, and our peace of mind. 

Avey had a rough first day back at school, but has been doing very well since then. She has set a goal to purchase a little vehicle that moves by shifting a wheel back and forth, and so she's been motivated to do chores around the house. That's been very helpful, especially because one of the regular chores she can do is unloading the dishwasher - a task that normally falls to me. 
Otherwise, we've all just been trying to keep up. We had some glorious weather yesterday, which has continued into today, so we're all trying to maximize our time outside with visits to parks, picnics in the backyard, and lots of running around. It will sure be nice to have the winter done and gone, even though this one was so mild. It seems like half of last summer was lost because we were so busy with newborn Merritt, so we're sure to make up lost time with plenty of adventures this time.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Walking Small

Merritt has taken more than 20 consecutive steps without falling, so I think it's safe to say that he has it pretty much down. He can go very well when he takes a little bit of time to think through his movements, but often he seems to be trying to run more than walk, so he'll stumble. He is quite proud of himself, and so are we! He is now 11 months old, and as adorable as ever. 
If we could just get his sleep consistent, things would be just about perfect, but he still struggles to sleep in his bed. He clearly wants to lay on his tummy for sleep, but anytime we lay him in his bed rather than his car seat, he sits right up and tries to climb out. The car seat at least forces him to lay still until he passes out. We've been trying him in his bed at night at least, because by then he is tired enough to fall asleep in our arms and let us lay him down. Perhaps that will improve by his birthday. 
Hakan is still somewhat of a pill. Every few nights, several minutes after putting him to bed, we will check the monitor and find that he has disappeared. After some investigation, we find that he has gone into the closet in his room to quietly play with toys while Carver sleeps. He is also more defiant at nap time. Thankfully, he remains our best eater, though we've had some strange stomach bug making its way through the household recently. There's been no vomiting, but there has been a loss of appetite. Surely it can't last much longer.
Avey's spring break has come to a close, but she made the most of it by earning money, reading, and watching lots of television. Her love of the Han Solo character has expanded her film interests to the Indiana Jones series, so she and I watched the first installment this week (averting her eyes at the scary parts). She stayed in her pajamas most of the week: always a sign of vacation.

Our April Fool's Day was relatively uneventful. Kira and the kids let me sleep in, but when I awoke I found a breakfast fit for a king awaiting me. All was not as it seemed, however, as I discovered onion powder in my eggs (total nightmare), and hot sauce in my drink. At least the waffles were unaltered...

I tried to convince my siblings that I had been offered a job in the United Arab Emirates, and was probably going to accept, but they caught on pretty quickly.

Otherwise, life charges on its usual course, while we try to keep our arms wrapped around it.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Middle Child Strikes Back

Avey is officially on spring break, and not a moment too soon. She's seemed to have an especially rough time lately, which seems to be a combination of school, lack of sleep, and dealing with 3 younger brothers. Her homework is usually the last thing she wants to do after a day at school, so she just needs some time to unwind by watching a favorite show or reading a book. Naturally, this house is not exactly the place to be for some R&R, so Avey often secludes herself in her room. Interestingly enough, Avey spent a lot of Saturday on her homework, apparently enjoying the ability to do it on her own terms. When I asked her her plans for the break, she said, "Read a lot and avoid my brothers." Too true, although I'm sure she will pitch in to help out when Kira needs.
Hakan has been our biggest pill to swallow lately. He's been in a mood, and taking it out on both of his brothers. Perhaps we've been letting him get away with too much for too long, because he pushes buttons like nothing we've seen. He occasionally starts wailing on Carver for virtually no reason, and his tolerance for Merritt is near zero. If Merritt shows interest in something Hakan is doing or with which he is playing, Hakan shoves the poor guy out of the way. Luckily [?], Merritt does not seem to have associated Hakan with displeasure yet, because he still persists in trying to share toys. We'll see if that lasts much longer. 

Merritt is as curious and active as ever. He continues to take 2-to-3 steps at a time, but lacks confidence to keep working at it. He can stand unsupported indefinitely until he grows bored or sees something to which he's attracted. His two little teeth are a fun sight, and he has gotten proficient at falling asleep with just his pacifier rather than 5 to 20 minutes of rocking. To my delight, he has gotten very good at saying, "Dah dah dah."

Carver seems more mature with his 5 years under his belt. He is a great mentor to Hakan when they are not fighting. He was a little sick with a cold earlier in the week, missing his first day of preschool. We feared that he had caught Hakan's strep, but the test came back negative, and he cleared up pretty quickly, so we sent him into preschool on Thursday. He had a blast, so we think he's finally reaching a point of boredom at home that will pay off once school starts for him in the fall.

Kira got another client scheduled in, so we hope to have all of them keep their appointments and schedule regularly. She's had trouble with some lately deciding not to show up for their times, meaning that I wasted my time coming home early and she wasted her time getting all dressed and ready, and we wasted money reserving the office. It's frustrating, but we have learned over the years that it seems to come with the territory in her line of work.

I am busy as ever at work, but feeling pretty good with the weather warming and the semester drawing to a close. I think one enormous improvement to my outlook on life is that I finally broke down a purchased a bicycle that is built for a grown man. For that last 18 months or so, I've been using Kira's very old bicycle to get to and from the train station. It is a functioning machine, but it is built for someone with Kira's (much shorter) frame. Plus, it's a mountain bike with wide tires and deep tread, adding to the friction. It also happens to be quite heavy. These features all combine for a perfectly miserable ride for me. My new bike was inexpensive, and is much more in line with what I need. It's built for my frame, it's about half as heavy as Kira's bike, and the narrow tires seem to glide almost effortlessly on the roads. Now I wake up without dreading the commute as much, so that's something.

We had a glorious day in the 70s a few days ago, and it's been rainy since. We are very excited for the warmer weather and all the adventures that come with it.