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...