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  • Elijah Ricks

Bat to School

Updated: Aug 31

Last Sunday afternoon, I cut all the boys' hair in preparation for school. We can't have our kids going to school looking like they're homeless, now can we? I squeezed that in in between lunch and an afternoon birthday party to which Carver had been invited. It was a semi-casual gathering at a park, so we figured it would be fun. Kira opted to take all the kids, while I stayed home to prepare to cook dinner. Just like the rest of the week, it was hot and humid, so maybe not worth it, but still a nice gesture and good reason to get the kids out of the house.


For dinner, I cooked up some burgers, which are a family favorite (although Merritt doesn't like them flame-grilled). That was a delicious treat, but then after we did the dishes and started up the dishwasher, it started making a horrifying grinding noise. In a strange coincidence, I had just spoken with my mother on the phone where she mentioned that her dishwasher has been giving her trouble. I'm now convinced that dishwashers everywhere are in cahoots, determined to break down whenever they get the chance. At least ours is still cleaning the dishes thoroughly, but the noise is so very loud!


I took it apart to try and see if I could find anything, but it's out of my skill level. When the noise continued the next time, I started thinking about just getting a new one, because the people who bought this dishwasher installed it in such a way that it is nearly impossible to pull out and service. I spent hours just getting the water pump accessible when it went out months ago, so I did not want to mess with it again. Still, I figured I would try for a while and see what I could do. I got it out on Tuesday evening, and it was stupid and hard, but didn't take as much time as I'd feared. I've got a repair guy coming on Wednesday to see what's up.


Monday, I got up with the boys for breakfast and then Kira took off for a dental appointment. I had a phone meeting to join, so I kept the boys occupied with screens. I then worked in the afternoon and Kira went in for work herself in the late afternoon and then didn't get home until late. I was thrilled (#sarcasm) to be handed a new problem at school - I got an email saying that they had scheduled one of my in-person courses for a classroom that can fit only 15 people. But of course, they had allowed 30 students to enroll, and told me that I had to figure out how to make that work. Great. I had to figure out how to tell half of the students that they shouldn't show up on the first day of class. They are making us broadcast each class anyway, and I was not sure how many students preferred to come rather than watch, so I polled the students to see how many were planning on actually showing up. Most told me that they were likely to join remotely, but then later in the week I found out that my course's assigned classroom had been changed to a larger room. At least they waited to tell me until I wasted all of that time and energy...


Kira spent a lot of time getting the boys ready for school to start. It was remote learning on Tuesday, but they were scheduled to show up in person on Thursday. We were surprised to get a phone call that they were delaying in-person classes at Avey's school for another day because there were bats in her building!

First Day of School, Fall 2020

Tuesday started the kids' remote learning over their iPads. Kira worked with them while I continued with my course prep. They ran into several technical issues, but eventually got things figured out, making Wednesday go much more smoothly.


Wednesday I lost 4 hours because of a faculty meeting. They call it "strategic planning" or whatever, but I didn't find most of it useful or even relevant. When I came down for a quick lunch, I was surprised to find a large package had been delivered. My sister-in-law had sent us a hammock as a surprise! Avey and I put it together that evening, and we've enjoyed it every day.

In the afternoon, I ran some errands to get some last school supplies for the boys to take to school the next day, and we got word that Avey's school would be open for her to come as they apparently got the bats under control.


Kira had a rougher day with a headache, but the technology was easier to deal with, so they were done much earlier than on Tuesday.


Thursday was go time. We got up earlier to feed the boys and have them ready for the bus. Avey's bus comes at a ridiculously early hour, so Kira's going to try driving her at a normal time. The problem is that she needs to leave just a little before the boys' bus comes, so it may be challenging. In any case, I stayed to make sure the boys got on their bus okay, and Kira drove Avey. Naturally, Carver left his water bottle at home and Hakan forgot half of the school supplies, but they made it to and from school at least. Things were apparently a little weird with the small classes and mandatory masks and all, but still nice to get out of the house and see other people.


It was eerily quiet at home with the main sources of noise miles away. I worked at the kitchen table and Merritt occupied himself while Kira went to a couple of appointments, including one to get contact lenses again. She tried them in El Paso, but they were always uncomfortable and/or she couldn't see, so gave up and hid her beautiful eyes behind glass lenses. This trial is going better, and she's working her way up to a few more hours of contacts each day.


I got a surprising amount of work done at home. I had scheduled an air conditioner repairman to come by that morning. There's nothing wrong with the AC, but we got word that there's a class-action lawsuit against the manufacturer of our model for some part failures, and one thing they are doing is paying for an additive that prevents the problem, so I scheduled him to come by and do that. I also asked if he would take a look at that drip in the crawlspace and see if he could figure out what was going on, so I cleared out the pantry so that he could get into the crawlspace. Naturally, he never showed, so I contacted the company and he called to reschedule for later in the evening. I said sure, but then still he never showed up.


Not wanting to waste the access to the crawlspace, I decided to go down and adjust the wall support I had installed the previous week. It helped, but there was still some give, so I tightened it up, with Avey watching the crack until it closed up. I also adjusted the steps I had put in by cutting them (with my chainsaw) just a few inches shorter for a better fit. I must have been still feeling especially productive, because after that I decided to just drill the hole for the wires to a new outlet I've been planning. I then just kept going and wired and installed the outlet in our kitchen island. It works great, and it's going to be so nice to be able to use the mixer or griddle on the island instead of the counter tops.

Friday, the kids were back in school, and I was mostly on daddy duty as Kira went to other appointments and dealt with her duties as RS President. I did manage to get a lecture recorded and did some last checks of the course materials to make sure everything was ready. It was again ridiculously hot, but I took Merritt on a bike ride anyway. I finally heard from the AC guy, asking if he could come on Saturday, but not responding when I asked what time.

Avey 2020

Saturday finally cooled down significantly, so it was much nicer. I got up early to go help transport a table we were given by Hannah's boss. It's a little nicer than our current one, and it's expandable with 8 leafs (not that we'd need that many). It's a nice addition to our house, and the boys jumped right on making it feel like part of the family:

While moving stuff, Hannah's boss (who is also in the branch and a family friend) helped us move her big stuff to her new apartment. The place is all finished and looking ready to be lived in. We got things arranged for now, although Hannah will likely decide to rearrange some as she settles. She had a busy Saturday with dog-sitting and doing some remote training for the bus, so she opted to wait to move her mattress and clothes to the new place until she can dedicate more time to it. We also identified an area that will need some curtains, and a couple of lights needing bulbs and such, and getting ideas on where she can put bird feeders.


After finishing up there, we came back home and the AC guy showed up. Hannah left to do some of her stuff, and the rest of us hoped to get to a park while the weather was so lovely. By the time they were all ready, the AC guy was still busy working on everything, so I just stayed home while they went for their picnic of Wendy's and play. They brought me a burger, at least. The AC guy fixed the leak into the crawlspace, so at least that! Carver ran into two of his best friends at the park, so he had a grand time. After they were done, they picked me up and then we met Hannah for ice cream downtown, and then walked over to see Hannah's apartment. The kids were all very impressed and demanded a tour of the rest of the house, including Kira's office (they are in the same house). We then went home for the evening routine.


This next week is my first week of school, and my first ever time doing teaching that is live broadcast, so that's going to be weird. The kids will continue their remote and in-person school, and hopefully we'll get into some sense of normalcy!

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