• Elijah Ricks

April Downers

Updated: Apr 9, 2021

It's amazing how much can change over the course of a week, and we've had one of those...

Last Sunday afternoon, I took the younger two to the park, and Hannah came to help manage Apollo. While there, some elderly guy with two little dogs drove up in a golf cart and flagged me down. He asked if I had a phone, and asked me to call 911 to report a guy in his car a little farther up the road. He said that he "couldn't tell if he was alive or dead," and there was a lot of junk in his car. I was sure the guy was just napping, but this dude sure seemed like he wasn't going to take "no" for an answer. I called the police non-emergency number and told them what the guy was saying. The golf cart guy seemed satisfied, so he left (just in case they needed to arrest someone for making a false report). They sent out a car, which left a few minutes later, probably because they woke the guy up and he said he was taking a nap.

We came home and one of Hakan's friends was over hoping to play. We decided to let them do it for a few minutes, so they went in the backyard. Carver joined them, but as I was puttering around in the yard, I overheard an exchange that I didn't like, so I made a note to talk to him about it later. Later, the older kid decided that he wanted to play "wrestling," and caught Carver off guard about it and pushed him off the trampoline. Carver does not handle that kind of thing well, acting as if he had just been stabbed in the eye. Anyway, the other kid left without incident, and I was very concerned about the whole thing. I contacted his mom to explain what had happened, and had a stern talk with Carver about some of the things he had said to the other kid. He was very receptive, and agreed to apologize about the entire exchange the next time that kid came over. He came over a few days later, and Carver did a pretty good apology for a 9-year-old.

Hannah stayed away to clean up the house she had been staying at to dog-sit. Avey and I watched a few videos of her as a toddler before we called it a night - that was a lot of fun.

Monday, Avey missed her alarm for the bus, so we drove her to school, but then she didn't have all of the signatures she needed to start running during track, but she declined our offer to come and sign them, so she just sat, not feeling like running anyway.

I recorded the last lecture of the semester (to be watched in a few weeks), and Kira had a client cancel, so she managed Merritt. Merritt and I picked Carver up from his first meeting of Robotics Club, and he was excited to tell us about what's in store. Kira dropped Apollo off for a play date and picked Avey up from track. She went into work for a phone call with a college student from her branch who needed to interview a professional. I was in a mood to do some projects, and so I changed the oil on the mower and then removed the old and ugly caulk around our downstairs bathroom sink and replaced it.

Indiana opened up eligibility for the Covid vaccine for everybody over 30, and so I signed up, but the first slot isn't until mid-May, so it looks like I won't be licking too many door knobs yet.

Tuesday was a normal morning, but the rest of the day was anything but that. While I was wrapping up some work, I found a notice that my faculty mentor from UCCS (my master's degree) had died early in March. He was older in years, and I suppose it's been 10 years since I'd seen him, but it was hard to believe that he was gone. I spent a few minutes writing a nice note to his widow.

As if to remind us that nothing is certain, Kira received word that her maternal grandmother had had a stroke that day. She kept a close watch on things over there, and decided that she should fly there as soon as possible to get a few moments with her grandma, and also to support her mother during the difficult time. She bought her flight for the next day.

Because Kira would be gone for half of the day, and we had too much going on, I canceled a dental appointment I had as soon as I woke up. I got the kids fed and working on their remote learning, and Kira got packing for her flight. Because Kira would be gone on my long Thursday, I decided to tell my students about the emergency, and ask the afternoon course to watch the pre-recorded lecture instead of holding class (I had recorded it a year ago). I'm sure they were actually glad to free up their schedules some.

Hakan had an eye appointment that morning, so I took him there, and he got a prescription. His eyes aren't really bad, but his astigmatism seems to be getting in the way of his reading. We picked out some frames, and he can hardly contain himself waiting for them to arrive. They told us 3 to 4 weeks, which is bananas. Maybe they'll come early.

We left late to catch Kira's train, but I saw on my train tracker application that the train was 6 minutes behind schedule. As we drove, I saw that our intersection was blocked off by several firetrucks and police vehicles, and a helicopter seemed to be hovering over, so we turned around and went the other way. We pulled in just as the train was, so Kira jumped out of the car and grabbed her suitcase to jump onto the train just in time. I got out of the car to make sure she had made it, and then when I sat back down, I saw her purse in between the seats. Over about 45 seconds, I thought, "Uh oh, I should text her that she left her purse...oh, but her phone is here in her purse. Can I mail this to her overnight? But her wallet's here too. She can't even get on the plane without her ID. Now what?" I looked over at Apollo, who had come with us, and the look in his eyes said, "Go for it, you wild man you."

I floored it, and we went about 85 mph to the next train stop. I ride the train enough to know that it takes the train about 9 minutes to get there, and that was pushing it for a car. I had to disregard a few safety guidelines [cough cough], but we passed the train and then made it to the station with just enough time for me to get out and watch the train come to a stop. I handed off the purse to Kira, and then went home much later than the kids had expected.

Kira made it to her flight on time after changing trains, but before she even got to the airport, she received the news that her grandmother had died a few minutes before. We were sad that she had come so close to being there to maybe say goodbye in person, and then she was stuck wondering what she should do. Because we had already made the plan, we agreed that she should still go and be a support to her mother, so she went. Once things started to get arranged over the next day or two, she decided that she would also like to stay for the funeral this coming Friday, so she extended her trip through this next week. Grandma Alene was Kira's last living grandparent, and so the loss has been especially poignant. We're glad that we can make it work for her to stay. Alene was a wonderful woman, and we'll feel her absence.

At home, I gave the boys the incentive of going for milkshakes on our way to drop Avey at track, but only if they finished their remote learning stuff. They did, and so we dropped off Avey, picked up Hannah, got our milkshakes, and then went to the dog park. It was very chilly, so we all gave up after a while and dropped Hannah back at home before picking up Avey a milkshake and fries before we got her from track. Bedtime went pretty smoothly, although Merritt was very sad that Kira was gone. He didn't seem to understand that she was in another state instead of just at work for the night.

I had a rough time sleeping with Kira gone, and so I got up early to shower on Thursday morning, and found light snow on the ground. After getting the kids off to school, Merritt and I made a run to two stores before my morning class. Without Kira there to keep Apollo at bay, Apollo interrupted class with his barking, and so the students started asking about him, and he even came over so that I could show him to them over the video. He's got a little fan club now.

In the afternoon I fixed a tire on a tow hauler thing I bought for the mower to pull. I've wanted one for a long time, and so when I saw one used at one of my favorite little second-hand stores, I bought it, not sure if I could fix the tire. It wasn't even hard, though - so now I'm really excited to use it for the playset project.

I mowed part of the backyard where the grass was growing longer than the rest, and we all went to get Avey from track again. Merritt was still heartbroken that Kira was gone. Kira was very busy, spending all day making decisions about funeral arrangements and what to do with her grandma's things, and such. Hannah brought over blondies to help brighten our spirits.

I had another rough night Thursday night, but held it together during breakfast. Kira called to tell them good morning, as she had a rough night also. Avey had already taken her bus. I joined a meeting, and then tried to set up for sawing down some trees in the back of our yard. It's in the easement rather than our yard proper, but some of the trees have been making me nervous about our power lines, and when there's big gusts of wind, I worry about the kids being under them. I got set up but then had to take Apollo off to a play date and then feed Merritt lunch, then go get Apollo, but then I got to start cutting. I got a lot done - taking down all of the branches that were near the power lines. When Hakan got home from school, he couldn't wait to get in on the action, so I handed him a little hand saw to cut up some of the branches. He loved it, and was even helpful in providing some counterweight when I was in tricky spots on the ladder.

The weather was finally nice, so once we finished with the trees, I packed up the boys and Apollo to go to a park about 15 minutes away. We then left to get Avey from track, but she finished early, so had to wait for us to get there. We caught up with Kira, who was feeling much more positive after a good day. It's unfortunate that her vacation had to come under such unfortunate circumstances.

I finally slept better that night, but in the morning, I rolled over to turn my phone on just in case the delivery guys called about bringing the playset. Five minutes later, they called to tell me they would be there an hour earlier than the automated phone call from the day before had said. I rolled out of bed and got dressed so that I could tell them where to put everything. Hakan watched from the window, bouncing up and down with excitement at the large boxes. He wanted to get building it right away, so we started organizing all of the parts and taking inventory. We paused for breakfast, and then got building right away. Hakan was a really good helper, doing what he could with a screwdriver, and fetching things or helping to hold them for me.

We took a lunch break to picnic at a park. The weather was warm, but windy enough that it was a challenge to eat our food. The kids played for a while, but it was almost too warm for us, as we just aren't used to it. We came home to do haircuts for the two youngest, and all the boys showered. In preparation for moving the playset to the backyard, Hakan and I laid down landscaping weed barrier to the ground we had leveled, but we were about 8 feet short! Maybe Merritt and I can pick some up tomorrow. Avey took Apollo for a walk while I mowed the front lawn and then showered before starting dinner and doing the bedtime routine.

Today I wanted to get the playset's main walls set on solid foundation before the mulch arrives tomorrow. That way we can just move the mulch in around it. I laid bricks, although I wished I had smoothed out the ground better before laying the weed barrier, because now I had to rely on gravel to level them. Anyway, we got it done after a lot of hard work, and a team effort from all of the kids.

Now we still have to put in the floors and the roof, and install the swing bar and the two slides, but we're getting there. At least it's level!

We spent part of the afternoon celebrating Easter. Everyone but Carver wanted to color eggs, and so Avey took on that job while I unexpectedly had to mess with our dishwasher that didn't finish its cycle. I couldn't find the problem, so I had to order a repairman, who can't get here until Kira's back. Figures. Looks like it's paper plates for this week...

After dyeing the eggs, the kids filled our plastic eggs with candy and then I hid them in the backyard. The whole hunt took about 3 minutes, but the kids are getting pretty difficult to impress. Anyway, they then went in to start eating some candy, and I stabilized the play set to last through any wind that might hit us through the night.

The weather today was glorious and not windy at all, so we made the most of it and went to a park for a while. Avey rode her bike there. We then came home to make waffles and gluten free pancakes with bacon for dinner. It's not exactly an Easter theme, but it filled us up. Hannah was good enough to make the waffles while I made Carver's pancakes and the bacon.

Hakan started sniffling heavily at dinner. He went to bed early after sneezing a lot. I imagine that it's just allergies, but we'll have to see what he's up to in the morning...

It's been very busy and wild over here. I haven't talked to Kira yet about her day, although I imagine it was mostly filled with General Conference. She sent me a picture of her visiting her father's gravesite, so I imagine that was from today or yesterday. We sure do miss her. We'll see how this next week without her goes...

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