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  • Writer's pictureElijah Ricks

Check-Engine Blight

In some ways I would prefer to just forget this week, but there are some things worth remembering, so here it goes...

Because Sunday was my birthday, I relaxed a bit. Kira was gone with the kids extra long because she forgot that she had promised to buy a cake for a sister in the branch (who has some special needs). So she dealt with that before coming home. I had requested breakfast for late lunch, so Hannah came over to make up the waffles while I manned the bacon station. Kira made scrambled eggs and we all feasted.

It was a relatively nice day, and so I offered to take kids to the park, but Merritt was the only boy interested. Hannah and Avey came along so that Apollo could get a chance to find garbage. He was very taken with a Labrador puppy who came to check out the park. Merritt had a total blast. He met a friend right away and they got along swimmingly. We finally had to tear him away. Kira stayed home with the older boys and dealt with stuff for her calling. She finally finished and got the older boys interested in an outing just as we were getting home from the park, so she took them on a bike ride, which Merritt also joined.

Once they were back, we opened presents and ate my cake. I was thrilled to get some much-needed items and funds for much-needed items. I just wish it could have been under more-pleasant circumstances than remembering my age...

When bedtime came around, Jesse gave one of the best presents he could have - he surprised us by helping Merritt brush and floss his teeth! That's normally my job, and I often have to chase Merritt around for 5 minutes before he'll hold still, so that was awesome. We played some games together and then had a bit of an earlier bedtime, as we were all worn out over the time change.

Monday was a fairly standard morning, but I wanted to take the truck in because of the check engine light. There's a tiny leak somewhere in the fuel vapor containment system, but I just could not find it. I bought a new fuel cap and replaced the fuel tank filler neck all for naught. I'd given up, but the mechanic couldn't fit it in that day, so we scheduled it for Wednesday. I gave it another close inspection that afternoon and found a tube that was slightly cracked, so I was pretty sure that must be it. I replaced it that night and then canceled the Wednesday appointment, hoping that I'd fixed it.

Kira worked Monday, and she was very tired for most of the day, but just couldn't fit in a nap in the afternoon like she'd hoped. I took Apollo to the dog park in the afternoon, and he finally played with other dogs! It took him about 45 minutes to warm up to it, and he really got going when he found a dog just his size and a good temperament. The rest of the day was filled with laundry, supervising homework, and doing dinner while Kira was at work. Kira finally got her second (or first) wind with her afternoon client, and felt more energized the rest of the day. She put the boys to bed while I searched three auto parts stores for a replacement tube part that nobody had. I ended up figuring out a work-around, cleared the check-engine code, and kept my fingers crossed.

Tuesday was a standard day. Once I was in the city, I got connected with a guy in the stake who is looking for brass players for the Christmas program this year. I've been interested in getting into something like that to play the old horn in F again, so I got the skinny on rehearsals, which start today.

In the afternoon, Jesse wanted to go check out the Boys and Girls Club more carefully. We had already signed him up, but he's seemed nervous to actually go, so Kira took him after dinner when it would be less busy so that he could familiarize himself with the layout.

Wednesday, Kira had been so tired and busy for the last several days that I decided to let her miss the breakfast routine. I got the kids to school and then worked until she woke up. I then ran some errands to buy groceries and some pants for the two younger boys. As soon as I started the truck, the check engine light was on, so I switched to the van, and lost all hope of ever figuring out the problem. I called the mechanic to get it in there Friday.

Avey stayed after school for a drama club callout meeting, and Jesse went to the Boys and Girls Club, having a blast. Kira picked Avey up from school and then brought her home to get ready for a youth activity at the church.

Thursday was another busy day in the city for me. Kira was busy with visiting the bedridden sister in the branch and also had a presidency meeting. Merritt came home from school with a trophy he'd earned in class for "being a good listener" and "making good decisions."

He's very proud of that!

Kira let me sleep in on Friday morning, but I got up to say goodbye to the kids before they left. I took the truck in, and then dropped Kira off at home before taking the van to the hardware store and Costco. Kira did more stuff for her calling. Once we had all of the groceries unloaded, I got changed and then started my own troubleshooting for this stench that sometimes comes through the house. I was in the attic, the crawlspace, and poking around everywhere in between. My very best guess is there's a dead rodent somewhere between the floors of the house or behind a wall, but I just can't know where, as there is so much space it could be. Anyway, in the crawlspace, I found where they have probably been entering, and so I sealed that off with some concrete. As I was sealing off possible access points to the first floor from the crawlspace, I came upon a dead rodent of some kind. It was too big for a mouse, but definitely not a rat, so I don't know what it was. I wish that it were the source of the smell, but I didn't notice any smell unless I got very close to it. Anyway, I cleaned it up and showered again. I thought we could have our HVAC guy come and bring his camera thing to search between walls and floors as best he can to see if there's anything there. I scheduled him for Saturday.

The mechanic called to say that the auto parts store had sold me the wrong fuel cap. I was very frustrated by that with all of the time and energy I had wasted, but glad that it would be an easy fix. But oh no, they called back later to say that they thought the fuel tank filler neck was also not quite right, and also that there was some pump that had malfunctioned. But they can't get the parts for another week. I've been trying to understand how the fuel tank filler neck is wrong, because it perfectly matched the old one, so I think I'm going to need some clearer evidence before I let them charge me for it. What a nightmare!

Jesse went to B&G Club again. Avey stayed after school to hang out with some friends downtown. It was cold and unpleasant, so they eventually went to the library and hung out there.

Saturday was cold and rainy all day, matching my mood very well. Kira joined the (senior) sister missionaries at our neighbor's house. They've been giving the neighbor sewing lessons for the past few weeks, and Kira wanted to join in and chat. She then came home to start problem-solving things with her calling. I guess that I was desperate to get my groove back on fixing the truck up, because I replaced the heat and air control lights in the dashboard, and then worked on restoring the headlights using a method I saw on YouTube. The dash lights now work, and the headlights are much better, although not all I'd hoped. I may try the method again when the temperature is warmer to see if that helps.

Our HVAC guy came by, but that whole thing was a waste of time. I told his wife what it was I wanted him to do - just use his camera to help us find the rodent. He kept inspecting the ductwork to make sure it was all intact. I kept directing him toward looking in the places where the smell was strongest, and he didn't seem to think that was useful. Finally, once he had inspected everything, I asked one more time, and he offered to loan me his camera tool. Ok, fine. So I then spent some time inspecting everywhere I could reach. It just wasn't working though, without enough light and there's just too much space too far from access points. Totally defeated between the inability to resolve the smell and the truck's check-engine light, I gave up. I decided that I will just focus on sealing off any access points to the house, kill whatever rodents may remain in the walls or crawlspace, and wait for the smell to resolve on its own. I've just spent too much time and money and gotten absolutely nowhere with this thing.

Anyway, Avey took Apollo out on a long walk while the HVAC guy was over, and she found a massive leaf that she brought home to show us:

A switch I'd ordered weeks ago finally arrived in the mail that day, so I installed it in about 5 minutes so that the passenger window control now works in the truck. It was a very small victory, but finally a victory.

Kira took the two younger boys out on a bike ride after it had been rainy and cold all day. It was very dark, but they still had quite the adventure. We fed them dinner when they were back, and then Avey took over while Kira and I went out for a much-deserved date. We went to see the new James Bond movie and then came straight home to get to sleep.

Today was the primary program in the branch, and so I went to support the boys' singing. Carver and Jesse both had solos in songs, and Carver sang an entire song by himself also. He really nailed it, too. He's got some pipes on him, although he needs to work a bit on his facial expression while singing. Merritt was very entertaining to watch up on the stand: staring off into space, putting his tie over his face, yawning, and so on. Still, they did a very good job.

Merritt Wanted to Document His "Crazy Hair"

I forgot to mention a couple of weeks ago that Jesse has been tying his own shoes. We finally stopped with the stupid Velcro that wears out after a couple of months, so he's been getting more used to tying the knots.

Let's hope that this week will end with some solved problems, without creating new ones...

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