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 other...at 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.