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  • Elijah Ricks

Christmas in August

Updated: Aug 24

We finally got a picture of the oldest two with their new glasses. Avey tried a different look with the round frames, and Carver's got about the same style as his old ones.

When I left off last week, we were expecting some men from the branch to come by and give blessings. Once they arrived, Merritt went into "super shy" mode, and wanted to leave, so I offered a bike ride, but then once he saw that there was bread involved (for the sacrament), he agreed to join. They offered blessings for starting school, and Carver said he'd like one, but after it was over he burst into tears because he felt like it was so long and it was very uncomfortable to be under the pressure and heat from their hands. Poor guy.


The afternoon was then a bit chaotic as I had a hankerin' for some Chicken Parmesan. I recruited Avey to help and she and I got the meal all prepared, though we ran out of Parmesan cheese about halfway through somehow, so we used mozzarella instead. In any case, it turned out delicious, and the leftovers made for several more great meals throughout the week.


With a little time left in the day, Kira napped and I took the boys to a park so that we could enjoy the nice weather. In a nice surprise, we ran into a kid from Carver's second grade class, so they had a great time playing together. I'm more and more realizing that Carver needs more social interaction. I think I too often suggest he do activities that I would have enjoyed when I was his age, but that are more introverted things (do a puzzle, play with Legos, etc.).


Monday kicked off a very busy week for Hannah, as she was asked to help with the scheduling and route plan for the buses in the district. It's a total [expletive] show, because nothing is actually decided, the threat level keeps changing, and every single person who could affect anything is freaking out. They now appear to have come up with a convoluted plan to have some kids go to school some days of the week, while other kids go other days of the week, meaning that the bus routes change every few days, and sometimes the drivers will also change. On top of that mess, panicked parents are changing their minds at the last minute about whether their kids will be remote learners or will go to the physical building, causing them to need to change which stops the buses need to make. She would leave in the morning and work her two jobs before coming home around dinner time, pretty worn out. On a better note, her apartment is coming along nicely, with the remodeling on schedule to be complete sometime this week (or so it seems).

While she was gone, we had our typical madness around the house. I am really feeling the pressure to be ready for the semester. I'm holding two courses in person, but we are not supposed to expect people to be present in case they are feeling ill or are feeling like it's too risky, so we are required to ensure that they can have basically the same experience out of the classroom that everyone in the classroom is having. That's a lot more work for me, so I've decided the best way to do that is to pre-record all lectures so that everyone has access to them from home. So every morning this week, I recorded one of my lectures. I'm going to try to keep a couple of weeks ahead of schedule.


After that, I took Apollo off to a play date with his buddy, and then drove Kira to work in the afternoon. She was feeling better, but still dizzy enough that she thought it best to not drive herself. With the kids occupied enough, I cut the grass and then built another swing in the front yard. I made this one higher so that taller people might enjoy it, although Merritt is the swingaholic in the family.

Once Kira was home and the boys were in bed, I went by the hardware store, and while perusing, I found some swings. I knew they existed, but I figured they'd cost a bundle, so why not use the material I have? Wasn't I surprised to find them for $7 a piece - making me wonder why I'd gone to the trouble.


Tuesday, I did another recording and other school work, while Kira took the kids to a park and did a fast food picnic, giving me a break from daddy duty after so many days of going solo. I spent the time on work, then fed myself, and turned my attention to other projects. I sprayed for some weeds in the yard, as it's feeling like they are getting out of hand. I then sort of prepared to build the steps down into the crawl space, but then decided to measure the space, and then wondered if they would fit through the hole, so I moved everything out of the way (the entrance is in the pantry) just to see, and then I figured now that I had everything out of the way, I should probably just go down and do it. Kira and the kids were still out, so I went down in and put the steps together fairly quickly. I also took the opportunity to add a support beam under our stair wall. When we moved in, we had a crack in the drywall that looked pretty bad, so I patched it up and painted it, only for it to reappear after a week or so. After much pondering, I thought it probably had something to do with some give in the floor that holds the wall's weight. When we walk on it, it moves slightly, I thought. So I finally put a support beam, hoping that it would hold the wall steady enough that it would cease to move. I've patched up the crack once more, but I'm waiting to paint it while I see if the crack reappears with the support in place.


While in the crawl space, I found a constant drip from a duct whenever the air conditioner turns on, so I'm glad I caught it, but now we have to deal with that. I've got a guy coming this week to see if he can do anything. If not, I've got an idea for a system to at least direct the drip to our sump pump instead. The joys of home ownership...


The boys at least had a fun time in the crawl space. At least they are not too tall to stand down there - I get pretty anxious after a while down there.

In fact, the whole family went down to check it out in turns. Apollo didn't ever go down, but maybe we'll try him out later. Oh, and while down there, I also got a much clearer plan on how to install an outlet to our kitchen island, and I discovered what one of our circuit breakers does. When I was mapping out the house's circuitry several weeks ago, I could not find what breaker 13 did - but in the crawl space it occurred to me that the sump pump may be on its own circuit. I tested it, and it was! Mystery solved.


We spent Wednesday back on the surface. Kira had a follow up appointment with her doctor who removed the mole, so I was in charge of the kids. Her appointment went pretty well, and she is glad to feel better mostly. She still had some throbbing as her nerves heal, but the wound is getting better each day. When she got home, I recorded another lecture, and then took Apollo to another doggy play date, and ran to the grocery store and that used furniture and hardware store I like. I picked up some more things for little projects that I did in the afternoon. I put in an overflow drain for our laundry room sink. The washing machine empties into the sink, but too many times, when the sink drain gets clogged with lint or dog hair or whatever, the sink overflows onto the floor. There is a drain on the floor, so that helps with clean up, but I though if I put a hole in the top of the sink and then connect a tube that leads directly to the drain, maybe it would save some cleanup. Hopefully, we'll never have to use it, but I feel better with it there.


While I did that, Kira took the kids swimming at the neighbor's pool, as they are still out of town. Near dinner time, I got an email asking if I would be willing to take on another course for the semester. That puts me at 5, which is too many, but I figured it would be manageable because it's just an online section of a course I'm already teaching in person this semester, so I'm already planning on recording all lectures. I'm somehow sure I will come to regret it.


Thursday, Kira was schedule for a CT scan to look into more reasons why she's lost some sense of taste. She noticed it years ago when we lived in Illinois, so this has nothing to do with COVID-19, so she tried an allergist, who also suggested going to an ear, nose, and throat specialist. The CT scan was to explore some possibilities, but the tests showed nothing abnormal. Not sure what's next, or if she just has to deal with not being able to taste very well for the rest of her life...


The older boys went and played with the neighbor girl, and then worked on emptying the trashes together for some money. I took a short trip to our local hardware store before dinner, just to get out of the house and get a few ideas for my outlet-in-island project. I think I've figured it out, I just need to find the time to do it.


Friday was a normal work morning for me, recording another lecture, and then Kira had a phone meeting for her church calling in the afternoon, but she had the idea of us going on a date that evening, as we've been so busy lately. Avey even put the boys to bed after we finished feeding them, and she said that they were cooperative. Kira and I tried out a local restaurant that was closed for indoor eating, but had put up a food truck in their parking lot with some tables outside. We were both really impressed with our sandwiches, and made sure the cook knew he'd made believers out of us. After dinner, we went to see how Hannah's apartment was coming, and then we chatted in Kira's office (they're in the same house), before going for some dessert.


Saturday was possibly the greatest day ever, for the kids. You may recall that they have had their sights on Nintendo's latest gaming system, the Switch, for some time. We made the deal that if they earned half of the cost, we'd get one. Well, I came to find out that the Switch had been out of production due to the pandemic, and so it was entirely sold out. The only way to get one was to buy from eBay or something, and they were almost all used, and all were priced far above what Nintendo charges. I learned that Nintendo had gotten production back to normal in June, so that new systems should be arriving in stores slowly, so every day I would check some of the likely stores' webpages in the off chance that I found them in stock. There were a couple of days that I saw them there, but I would have to go to the store 20 minutes away, and there was no way to reserve one. Finally, on Wednesday I happened to find one at a store that would ship it, so I bought it. I figured that it would arrive and I would hide it while the kids continued to earn their half. I thought it would be another couple of weeks, but when I told Avey in confidence that I had bought it, she amped up her earning a bit, and then when we did the math, we discovered that the kids were about $25 away from getting it. The Switch was scheduled to arrive in the mail that afternoon, so I explained to the boys that they could maybe even the earn the Switch that day, so they started working toward it a little harder also.


They had a play date scheduled with Carver's best friend and his little brother (who is Hakan's age). So they had a blast in between the money earning. Kira caught up with some of her obligations while I made sure no one was dead or dying, and then Avey and I ran to a store to buy a few accessories for the Switch, and she bought some things for school.


When we got back, the mail came, and I figured the boys might feel more motivated if they actually saw their coveted item in front of them, so we opened it, and they flipped their lids. Carver finally seemed motivated like I thought he would have been days before, so he skipped the first half of our planned swimming outing to earn more money instead. By the end of the day, the kids had earned the Switch, and have been obsessed with it since they started playing.


I have rather mixed feelings. I don't like more screen stuff to do, but I am trying to see this as a good teaching tool about the value of a dollar, and how hard work pays off. I hope that it will continue to work, as they now have to earn money toward games they want, too. We should be able to use it as a bargaining chip, also. It's also nice to be in a position where we can have something so new - I feel like I've always been 10 years behind on video games.


So anyway, I took the kids swimming while Carver worked and Kira did other things. Hakan has really gotten adventurous; he likes to practice swimming on his own, and he likes to dive for diving sticks and such. Carver joined in with him once he arrived at the pool with Kira. I left so that I could have the Switch all set up for them to test out, and then we had dinner and they had a grand time trying it.


In other events, I have slowly been working to de-clutter the house. I went through a lot of the kids' toys and separated the old baby stuff that we don't need. We'll give some of it to the neighbors who just had a baby, and whatever they don't want we'll donate. I also vacuumed the entire downstairs one day this week - partially to set an example to the boys who didn't want to do it for money, and mostly because it was getting unbearable for me.


The kids officially start school this Tuesday online, but don't go in person until Thursday, so they are doing their best to completely ignore that fact. I have this last week before I have to start back, so I'm going to try to focus on being prepared. Kira got a new client, so that's exciting, and I think they'll come on Monday. Hannah starts her new route for the bus, and her apartment may be finished this week!

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