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!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Clunkers and Monkies

The sad followup from last week is that our truck is dead. We donated it to a veterans' organization, and are making a go of being a one-car family for now. Luckily, we can probably get away with that here because I usually take the train to work. The only obstacle to that plan is that I am working on the campus in Schaumburg one day each week this semester, to which there is limited public transportation, so I will very likely have our car for the full day each week. Still, we should be able to manage alright. 
Posing With Penguins
Hakan's health woes appear to be over for now. His eyes cleared up pretty quickly with our regimen of eye ointment and oral antibiotics. He liked the antibiotic because of the fruit flavor, but the eye ointment was not as much fun. We had to open up his eyelid and get a little bit of the ointment in there so that it could spread as he blinked. He was very brave about it, perhaps encouraged by the promise of an M&M candy after each successful application. The strange thing was that after there was no more need to apply it, he insisted that I do it. We'd finish his oral antibiotic, and he'd say, "Oh, we need to do my eye medicine!" I'd tell him that we did not need to any more, because his eyes were all better, to which he would respond, "Oh, but we just need to do it!" I relented and we did one more round. Luckily, the next day he did not insist that we continue.
Avey Dresses Up Her Live Doll
We had an unusually warm and sunny day yesterday. We hadn't seen the sun for what felt like ages, but it was out all day, and kept things in the cozy 50s. We took advantage of the situation and went to the free admission day at our local zoo. We weren't the only ones with that idea, but it was well worth the crowds.
We even timed it just right (accidentally) to arrive to see the polar bear getting fed some fish and lettuce. We used the opportunity to point out to the kids that even bears eat their greens.
I had a productive first week back in session. About 50% of my students have taken other courses from me before, so I hope that's a sign that they enjoy my style and not that my courses are too easy or something. In any case, I enjoy not needing to memorize names from an entirely new bunch each semester.
Now that the kids are all better from sicknesses, we have high hopes that we'll get more hours of consecutive sleep soon. It's been pretty rough with all of the interruptions.

Merritt continues to keep us on our toes with his exploration of every square inch of the bottom 24 inches or so of our home. He can now climb into the bathtub unassisted, forcing us to block off the bathroom and now other areas. He's been slowly trying out letting go of supports as he stands, and he lasts about 2 seconds before losing his balance. He'll be running around chasing his older brothers in no time.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Single Parent, Single Car

What a week! We've been very busy with both illnesses and preparation for a guest.

Hakan came down with both pink eye and an ear infection. Aside from some trouble sleeping and generally uncomfortable eyes, he's been in good spirits. We have him on some meds, so he's been slowly getting better. We're a little nervous that Merritt has pink eye now, so we're keeping close watch. 

We also spent much of this week preparing for the arrival of Amber, Kira's dearest longtime friend. For a Christmas present this year, she gave Kira a weekend visit and a "weekend away," which, due to the needs of our 8-month-old, was modified to about 14 hours away. 
Hakan Models
They left in the morning Saturday, and I took care of the youngsters. They went to visit a spot several miles away where they could see bald eagles in the wild. It was apparently an enjoyable outing, at least until they tried to return home.
As they drove, the truck began making some odd noises and the oil light turned on. They checked the fluid levels and found everything normal, so thought to see if they could get home alright. Things got worse, so they pulled over and turned it off. After a ride with a state trooper, several phone calls, and a ride in a tow truck, they made it home to us safely. 

I had just had several repairs made to the truck, so I'm quite saddened by its current state, wondering if it may be time to put the old girl out to pasture. We'll find out what's up once the repair shop opens.
In Kira's absence, the kids and I had our own adventures. During morning naps, I took on the project of trading out the older boys' clothes so that the clothes in their drawers would actually fit them now instead of 6 months ago.

After naps, we went to Carver's very favorite McDonald's location (because of the play area) for some lunch. The kids had a lot of fun and were actually relatively well behaved. On the way home, we stopped by a library they like for a few minutes before coming home for Merritt's nap and brownies (for all of us).

Merritt, unfortunately, napped for only about 7 minutes before waking up furious and hungry. I fed him and then tried to get him back to sleep again. He would have none of it, and stayed awake and needy for a long time. Fortunately, Avey was in a helpful mood, and we tag-teamed feeding and entertaining him until he eventually slept for about 12 more minutes. Kira got in around 10 p.m. to a very thirsty and needy baby boy.

It was nice to have another reminder of just how much she does for all of us (not that we really needed one). We hope that it was a nice time away.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Climbing Up The Walls

[Yes, that's a Radiohead reference.]

Merritt has been all over the place since he realized that his limbs were useful for something other than swatting away food and chewing on. He seems to care less about crawling and more about getting to things that he can use to climb. He has gotten to the most precarious positions, but he loves to do it. 
Merritt Samples the Knobs
Merritt had his first haircut yesterday. It was nothing dramatic: just trimming around the ears so that his wisps of fuzz did not bother him too much. He did not cooperate very much, as we expected, so it's not terribly even, but who pays attention to his hairline when he's so adorable?
Avey had a good week back at school. She still dislikes homework, but it is nice to see friends. Her teacher is expecting a baby in the next few weeks, so she'll have a substitute for the rest of the year (probably). That will be a bit of a transition, but Avey can be adaptable when she tries.

Yesterday, among our other busy activities, I offered to take the older three kids to Goodwill. They gathered a few things to donate along with some things Kira had gathered, and we took off. They had some Christmas money to blow through, and they like going through the treasures at Goodwill. Avey came across a backpack she liked, and it was $3. She had a fine backpack, but it was her money, so I figured it was up to her how to spend it. She bought it, and as she was going through it in the car she found a small pocket with $7 in it! Now that's a bargain!
We've all been slowly recovering from our illnesses from Christmas. Carver still has it the worst with a stuffy nose and sore throat, but it's usually an issue only at night. We were up with him more over the last two nights than we were with Merritt. We hope he gets better soon. It seems like half of what I write about on this blog every week is who's sick with what.

I have one more week before I'm back on campus, and I have plenty of work to do. We also have a guest joining us next weekend: Kira's best friend is coming to take her for a "weekend away," which will likely translate to several hours away as Merritt still refuses a bottle. I can hold him off with baby food, but he still needs his mommy.

If it weren't so cold here, we might venture outside more, but it has been just above zero all week. The kids don't seem to mind so much, but Carver keeps getting fooled by the sunshine, thinking it must be nice out. Fortunately, we have a large basement for the kids that serves as a sort of play area. It will have to do until we can leave the house without turning into Ricksicles.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Alright, 2017. Let's See What You've Got.

Happy New Year to all! 

We made it safely home after another long drive. This time, we opted to use our standard drive-during-the-day method, and kept going until about 1:00 a.m. It was still exhausting, but at least we had a good stretch of sleep before. The kids were so glad to get to sleep in their own beds, as were we. 

Our last few days in Colorado were wonderful, although we did not get to see everyone we had hoped. We managed to get through a family photo shoot from Kira's lifelong friend, ate delicious food, watched some movies, and played games. 
Ricks Family December 2016
As with most family trips, there was a lot of illness going around. Carver had been on antibiotics for a few days for strep as we went into Colorado, and then Hakan came down a few days later with a slight fever and cough, which we all eventually got. It doesn't seem like anyone caught strep, but my sister and my sister-in-law both caught the flu from somewhere. Whatever we have is not as bad as that, or maybe it just blends in with our normal lack of sleep.
Yesterday was our first full day back, but I was still recovering from the long drive. I decided around 8:00 p.m. that I would deliver on a gift for Kira: I had ordered a replacement camera for her phone because she's had two purple spots on all of her pictures for years. Given my past experience building the very computer upon which I'm typing this, and repairing my old phone, I thought I could pretty easily replace the camera. I got 4 screws in, and then when I couldn't get the fifth one loose, I thought maybe I was out of my league and should take it in. I put everything back together just as it was, but I could not get the phone to turn back on. I checked and rechecked all the connections, but still I cannot figure out what is wrong. That has been very frustrating, but hopefully will be resolved soon. [UPDATE: Kira's phone is working normally now. I don't know what was wrong, but it is fine now. Glad we could avoid the repair shop on that one!]
We are looking forward to a new year, with new milestones and adventures. The kids are getting older every day, and giving us wonderful memories with each stage. Let's make 2017 the best year yet!