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.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Seattle 2017

I spent the weekend in Seattle at the annual conference for the American Psychology-Law Society. I had a presentation to give on Thursday afternoon, and my flight left Thursday morning. I was nervous about making it in time, especially with the weather in Chicago lately. I decided that it would be best to travel in my suit in case I did not have time to change once I got into the city.
When I was dressing again after security, I knocked my watch out of the bin and when I picked it up, I found that it was not ticking and one of the hands had come off. That was disappointing, but at least I had an empty seat next to me on the plane.

I spent the plane ride practicing my talk with my laptop in front of me, and mumbling to myself under the roar of the engines.

I made it to the hotel with plenty of time, and even got to spend a few minutes in my room after registering. The talk went very well, particularly as I was the fourth talk after 3 dull ones.
It was a surprisingly interesting conference, with a special appearance by Amanda Knox, the young woman who was wrongfully convicted of murdering her roommate while in Italy. She apparently lives in Seattle, and was invited to come and be part of the proceedings, sharing her story. I even got to shake her hand and talk with her briefly Saturday night. 

Today, we had another special presentation from some of the experts and attorneys who have been working on Brendan Dassey's wrongful conviction case. That was very engaging, and a nice demonstration of the importance of our research.

Tonight is a poster session where my graduate student will be doing his research debut with a project we've been doing.

As usual, I miss the kids terribly by now, and Kira could sure use another pair of hands, so it's a good thing I'm heading back tomorrow. Hakan had a fever the day I left, so Kira took him right in, citing our past problems with child illnesses as soon as I leave for any trip. It's a good thing she did, because he tested positive for strep. She got him on medicine as soon as possible, so he's been doing very well.

Merritt surprised us all a few days ago when he accepted a pacifier at nap time, and then fell asleep while sucking on it without rocking. He's done it several more times since then, too. He's also sprouted his second tooth! Recently, one of his favorite things is doing the actions along with some songs, like 5 Little Ducks and such.

Avey is one week away from spring break now, so she's looking forward to relaxing and avoiding her brothers. She turned in her project on George Lucas this week, which turned out great. She spent most of Sunday night decorating a box to look like a space battle scene from Star Wars.

Carver is turning out to be more of a homebody than we thought. He spends most of his days in his pajamas that he received at Christmas. He's already worn holes through the feet of both pairs. Most of the time that one of us offers to get him out of the house for a little outing, he will turn us down. We're hoping that Kindergarten will get him more interested in new experiences rather than just running around the house.

We've got a relatively normal week ahead of us, for better or for worse...

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Spring Work

My spring break is quickly fizzling out. I worked through most of it, getting caught up with things, and trying to get a little ahead because this coming week I head out to a conference for a few days to give a talk and try to get used to a new bed. I sort of took Monday off because the oldest boys had dental appointments, and I stayed home with Merritt. 
Kira got a new client scheduled for tomorrow, and has been focusing a lot of her energy on getting Merritt's sleep under control. He's been sleeping in his car seat for naps and nearly all of the night, because for a time we found that car rides were the only way to get him to sleep. Then we tried manually rocking him in the car seat. That works pretty well, but it's getting very old very fast, as he and the car seat together make a very heavy object. 

We thought we'd try transitioning him to his bed for night sleep at least, and figured this week would probably be a good one for that. He's been doing quite well, so we hope that this continues to improve. He seems to be teething, as indicated by his chewing on everything he can fit in his mouth, but there are still no detectable chompers yet. 

He's officially taken steps on his own. He's taken one at a time here and there, but a few days ago he took three full steps...toward the television. I suppose the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. He stood up for about a full minute yesterday as he was keeping his eye on a babysitter (while Kira and I went out for a brief date). He walks along walls and furniture like a pro, so he'll be strutting around like a peacock in the next couple of weeks, it seems.
Avey has been in a creative mood lately. She got a bee in her bonnet about making some homemade silly putty, so she made a batch that worked, and then followed up with several batches of different colors, all named after Star Wars elements. For example, there's Tatooine Sunset Orange, Sith Lord Red, Tatooine Sand Yellow, Degobah Green, Jedi Blue, and Deep Space Purple. 
Hakan is Batman at the Store
Carver has been relishing in his 5-year-oldness. He is a little bit braver, and a little more confident, attributing all of his skills to "being five." He still has not grown any more open to trying fruit, but maybe he'll grow into that when he's six.
First Total Haircut
The boys all had haircuts this week, and this was the first major makeover for Merritt. I think he looks sharp, but it still catches us by surprise each time we look at him.

There's supposed to be a snow storm moving into our area tonight, which is strange because we went so much of this winter without snow. We've loved the sunshine, though, and can't wait for spring!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Carver Turns Five

The biggest news of the week is that Carver celebrated the fourth anniversary of his birth with us. He was so excited to turn five. We started the celebration by taking the oldest two children to see the new Lego Batman movie. Hakan wanted to go, but it was during his nap time, and we have learned through previous experiences that he typically gets bored halfway through movies at the theater and decides to go exploring instead. The older kids and I loved it, though, and now they can't wait to see the Ninjago movie at Avey's birthday. 

We also went out to lunch at Carver's favorite restaurant, where he could get pancakes in the middle of the day. It was then home to open presents and gorge on cake and ice cream. Easily the most popular gift in the first 24 hours is a specifically requested toy that makes tooting sounds (demonstration). All the siblings have been awaiting turns with it. He very much appreciates all of the cards and gifts through the mail as well, they just aren't quite as hilarious, apparently. 
It is hard to cope with the fact that we'll never get to spend any more time with the 4-year-old Carver again, but we are excited to see what the future holds for the 5-year-old, including Kindergarten in the fall. 

Otherwise, we've been busy with everything else going on. Merritt had some very good nights sleeping this week, going 6-hour stretches and such. He kept us humble last night, though, getting up about every 2 hours. He is walking along walls now like nobody's business, and this morning took a single step unsupported. He impressed me this morning when Carver cried out in pain after colliding with a toy or something. Merritt crawled over just as quickly as his little limbs would move, and then seemed to try to give Carver a hug to help him feel better. 

Hakan is turning into a night owl. He stays up after Carver goes to bed because he actually naps, but then where he used to willingly go to bed around 7 or 8, now he insists that he is too busy playing. It takes a lot of coaxing and then 4 or 5 steps to complete the bedtime ritual. 

He's also maintained his same uniform for close to 2 weeks now. He was immensely happy after Kira washed his standard shirt, and put it right back on:
He impresses all the strangers when we are out and about.

Kira has another client scheduled, and got her first pay check today! She somehow scrapes by on a few hours of sleep at a time, with occasional loss of consciousness as she nurses the youngest man-child.

I am on spring break this week, but will be filling most of my break with work, trying to get ahead of things, get prepared for an upcoming conference presentation, and trying to get some projects off of my list.

And the adventure continues...

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Light Saber Fiasco

As Kira had an appointment with her client Monday afternoon, I had all the kids in my charge. They were in need of an outing, and were in the market for a new beach ball after discovering a hole in one of ours that is essential to a game they recently developed. Ergo, the five of us headed to the Dollar Store nearby in search of a replacement beach ball.

The first problem was that Merritt was in need of a nap in the near future. The second problem was that the other three cared little for his predicament. They sorted through the toy section of the store, finding nary a beach ball. Apparently, the dead of winter is not the season for them. As time wore on, we needed to finish our business and get home for Merritt's nap. I told the children to make their selections if they had money and coveted any particular item. Avey chose something that caught her fancy, but the boys chose nothing. Then we got in line for the checkout.

It was at this moment that Carver decided he wanted something after all. He claimed to want a knock-off light saber, so we sent Avey to get one. Pressing the little button was supposed to make it light up and make some sound effect, but it did nothing. We sent Avey for another. That one did not work either. I questioned Carver once again about his decision, because he had shown no interest in the toy earlier, and this was a last minute (literally) decision, so perhaps he would rather save his money. He insisted that he would rather die than leave the store without the object, so we arranged to purchase the non-functioning toy and then go find one that worked on their rack. 
On the way to the car, Carver waved the sword back and forth, testing out its weight distribution, its feel, and function. Hakan asked to hold it in the car, but Carver refused, seeming never to tolerate parting with it. An argument ensued, but then was settled by the time we arrived home. 

I rocked Merritt to sleep for a few minutes, and when he was finally asleep, I came out to see how the older 3 were faring. Carver begged permission to play video games. I declined, pointing out that he had a brand new toy with which to entertain himself. He insisted that he did not want to do anything but play video games. After some more back-and-forth, I made him a bargain: if he chose 10 toys of his to give or throw away, then he could play video games for a few minutes. 

I thought myself awfully clever to occupy him with such a task, while getting him to evaluate his decision on different terms. After about 10 full seconds of consideration, he held up the very same toy sword he had just purchased at great emotional and temporal expense, and said, "I can get rid of this!"

I will spare the reader description of my outrage and dismay. Suffice it to say that Carver got a sound lesson in impulse purchasing, the value of a dollar, and why Daddy's hair is falling out.
One big development this week was Merritt's attempts to feed himself. He consistently tries to grab spoons we use to transfer food from a container to his mouth, so we've tried more finger foods to avoid that. He enjoyed crispy rice cereal, and Kira recently got him started on ground up broccoli and chicken. As one can see from the video footage, that has gone over well, albeit messily.

Hakan has been in his biggest Batman phase ever. Each morning, he wakes and puts on the same uniform: tan pants, a Winnie the Pooh sweater, cowboy boots, and a black and blue cape. Any time I am within earshot, he orders me to "do Batman," which means I need to talk in a low voice, almost whispering, and conversing with him about whatever is on his mind. Most recently, he has made Batman befriend a spherical plush penguin toy. Although they have little in common, aside from being mostly black, and not really built for flying, they often find things over which to converse, such as whatever food is on Hakan's plate.

Carver turns 5 this week, which has us all excited and wondering where the time has gone. We can hardly believe that he will be starting kindergarten in the fall!

Avey keeps busy with school and her Star Wars obsession. The franchise sure timed these movies right if they intend to secure our children as lifelong fans. Avey often recruits the boys into her role playing games, so even though they've not got a full grasp of the story or the customs of that galaxy, they are already familiar with key terms like "dark side," and "hyperdrive," etc. Avey even chose to do her school biography project on George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars.

This week also came with house guests for one night. Kira's college friend came through with her mother to spend the night and then catch a plane for foreign lands. It was a brief stay, but still something for the kids to enjoy. They are always up for a fresh audience.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

This Week's Battle Scars

Last Sunday evening, as Hakan was gathering his things for bed, he retrieved his water bottle from our kitchen table. Normally, he uses a small stepping stool to reach things, but on this particular night, the stool had been removed by one of his siblings. Hakan usually makes a huge fuss about things like that, but that night he decided to just climb up his chair to grab the water bottle. He tucked it under his arm, and slipped off the chair, landing his chin on his water bottle. The impact tore his chin quite a bit. It wasn't very deep, but certainly frightening and painful. After some ice, a bandage, and lots of cuddling with his mommy, he fell asleep in her arms and then transitioned to bed a bit later. He's healing up nicely now.

The weather over the last few days has been gloriously (and unseasonably) warm and sunny. It's allowed us to enjoy our back yard again. As the kids were playing a few days ago, the celebration of outdoor play got a little out of hand, as you can see in this video:
Carver was fortunate that the disc hit him in between the eyes and not in one of his eyes. Hakan is apparently more powerful than he looks, as Carver's little mark shows:
With clumsy little bodies with brains that don't think ahead very well yet, we are sure to have a few scrapes now and then. At least there's nothing too serious so far.

Merritt seems like he is on the verge of a tooth, but I realize we've thought so several times before. He has a little white dot on his gums that's been there for a long time now, and he seems like his sleeping has gotten even worse lately, so a tooth sounds like a good explanation (and easy solution) for both.
Miracle of miracles, Kira had an appointment with a client yesterday! This one has been on the schedule for several weeks, but found reasons to postpone each time. Finally, Kira held a phone appointment with her, and she agreed to meet in person this coming week as well. We hope to get something regular scheduled so that we can avoid the constant planning and re-planning.

We have this beautiful weather for a few more days, and then we imagine it will be back to frigid winds, so I'd better stop spending my time at the computer... See you next week!

Sunday, February 12, 2017


As mindful parents, Kira and I strive to teach our children the value of a dollar, as it were. Carver earned some money early in the week and then received a generous gift for Valentine's Day of some more cash, and the kids all needed an outing, so we took a trip to the thrift store - always a treasure trove. 

Carver purchased a stuffed bunny toy, and after we were home, Kira found it and asked whose it was. Carver proudly announced that it was his, adding, "I wasted my money on it!"

With some clarification, it became apparent that he had meant to say he had spent his money on it. 
In other news, all three boys have had the stuffiest noses we've seen in some time. We are blowing (no pun intended) through our bulk-purchased facial tissue stockpile like there's no tomorrow. Fortunately, there are no other symptoms adding to their discomfort, so Kira and I get awoken only a little more than usual each night (which is still considerable). I suppose one can't spell "Illinois" without "ill."
Merritt is growing bored with his usual spots to explore, so he is making it more difficult for us to open any access to restricted areas. Any time someone opens the refrigerator, he makes a beeline for it, desperate to get a peek and maybe slap a little hand on the pickle jar, if just for a moment. He maintains a fascination with Avey's room especially, as it is sealed off from just about everyone in the world. When he sees her door open, he cautiously and quietly moves toward it, keeping an eye out for Avey, like a mouse moving toward an unprotected piece of cheese, keeping watch for the cat. Sometimes he gets a foot or two in before she snatches him up, so her room remains the final frontier.

Avey's constant chatter about all things Star Wars has infected Carver, so the two of them watched Episode I this week. Maybe now they will have something over which they can bond instead of just video games.

Avey finished her after-school art class, so now she will need to find new ways to avoid arguing with her brothers.

Hakan is still preoccupied with his super hero toys, constantly asking for me to do their voices. Maybe he just needs some coaching in sound effects. He also loves being chased around, and riding on my back. Both of those activities require energy: a commodity in short supply, so we do our best. Why can't our kids ever ask if we would like a back scratch or something?

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Voices in My Head

About a year back, Carver fell into a habit of wanting to watch some short show on a smartphone right before he would lay down his head at night. We happened upon some fun videos showcasing superhero toys for boys about his age. He loved the videos so much, I thought that for his 4th birthday I'd get him some of the toys. They have been a source of fun off and on since then for both Carver and Hakan, and several more heroes and villains have joined their ranks. 

Still, it seems that the boys have run out of ideas recently. The poor superheroes went unloved for a while. Earlier this week, Hakan was bored while he was eating, and needed something to entertain him. Usually, a fork that talks like Captain Hook will do, but that game seems to have gone by the wayside. I found a couple of the superheroes and struck up a conversation between them, including some encouragement for Hakan to eat. He kept eating, so I kept the show going. Hulk and Batman kept throwing the Joker in jail, but he kept getting out until they realized that the jail was our napkin holder, and it doesn't have 4 walls. 
Hakan Rides the Reading Train
It was fun, and sparked new interest in the toys. However, Hakan now relies on me for all of the dialogue. He'll approach me in the middle of something and say, "Dad, do the Flash!" He then expects me to come up with some elaborate situation that will entertain him. He usually catches me at a busy time, so I have to turn him down, but otherwise I am getting to a point where my creativity is spent. The superheros are now reduced to talking about the weather.

I need to figure out a way to get Hakan to come up with ideas for the superheroes himself. He's gotten better, and it's pretty funny when he tries to talk like them. When he imitates the Batman voice, he basically just whispers in a serious tone.
He's also randomly integrated a toy sheep into the group, having each hero take turns petting it and commenting on how soft its wool is. I suppose that deserves some points for creativity.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Cloudy With a Chance of Boredom

The winter weather seems to be getting to us a bit. It's been around 30 degrees, sometimes snowy, and we haven't seen the sun for about a week. It might be something to enjoy, but the snow has not been sticking, so it's just cold and dreary everywhere. The boys don't consciously complain about being stuck inside, but they still seem to grate on each other. It also keeps my commute especially challenging and uncomfortable, so we are all ready for Spring. 
Hakan After Badly-Needed Haircut
Avey had an enjoyable week. She started a new after-school art class, and came home very excited about the materials she got and the new methods she learned. She showed us a very impressive beginning of her new project, which she hopes to complete soon:
House on Hill, by Avey
Merritt continues to exercise his mobility and curiosity to the extreme. He has discovered how to open the lower cabinet doors throughout our kitchen and bathroom, so he has made a routine of rearranging their contents each day. He's also getting braver about bipedal motion; twice this week he stood up with no supports for a full 8 seconds or so before plopping back onto his bottom. He turns 9 months this week, so he seems a little ahead of schedule with walking. Still, he has no teeth to show for his 9 months.

His sleep has regressed a bit lately, too. He still sleeps best in his car seat, but we have worked to get him more comfortable with his crib for naps. When in his car seat, he seems to want to roll over and lay on his tummy, but when sleeping in his crib where he can roll over, he seems to sleep for shorter stints. The worst part is that when he wakes at night, he just starts screaming like he's witnessed the end of the world, so we worry he disturbs his brothers. Strangely, when I try to comfort him until Kira is ready to nurse, he gets even madder, as if I'm the last person on earth he wanted to see. We hope that this schedule gets better soon, especially before I leave for a conference in March!
Carver Engineers a Wall
Carver is already gearing up for his birthday in March. He talks about it at least once each day. We can hardly believe he'll be 5, and still doesn't dare to try fruit in its natural form. Although, to his credit, he did have a taste of a particularly sweet mango earlier in the week, so maybe he's maturing after all. 

Not much noteworthy is happening otherwise. We just keep plugging away!