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  • Writer's pictureElijah Ricks


Updated: Dec 19, 2022

Oh my, what a week...

Last Saturday afternoon was Avey's choir concert. Hannah met us there. It was combined with lots of other groups, including the jazz band, the orchestra, a percussion group, and other choirs, so there was a lot of shuffling around in between songs, but we got to hear lots from Avey, too, and it was nice to have all of the variety. Although, if you were to ask Carver about his experience, he'd tell you it was absolute torture to sit there for 90 minutes or whatever it was. We didn't catch all of her songs, but you can hear some highlights here, here, here, and then the finale here.

We left Avey at the school because she was going to be fed and then had another concert at 6:00. We fed the boys at home, and got them to bed. I picked Avey up and we got ice cream for Kira and her. We stayed up too late watching a movie.

It was a normal Sunday. Kira had her meeting, so Hannah picked up the boys while I cooked lunch and baked a cake (just for fun). Once they were home, Merritt just could not stop talking. His brain was buzzing with questions about Star Wars (church will do that), and so he was hyperfocused on some key moments in that storyline. I offered to show him the scenes that he was so curious about, but he declined because he didn't want to get scared. So he just wanted me to describe everything to him in exhaustive detail.

Ivy came over, and the kids played outside in the cold. For our Family Night lesson, the kids made little cards for their teachers. Most of them used candy bars or other treats to make little puns like "I will Swiss Miss you over break!" Merritt didn't seem to get the whole thing, so he just wrote "Have a Merry Christmas" or something on most of them.

Merritt Tried Tying His Shoe at School

I was exhausted all afternoon, so I did not join in when the kids played a card game involving little duels. Somehow we still got to bed too late that night.

My dad called me Monday to tell me that my aunt Meledy had died early that morning. Her health had been declining for some time, although we were all still surprised that she had passed on so soon. We were glad to have seen her over the summer, at least.

Kira let me sleep in, and Avey got to skip choir that morning because the concert stood in for their final exam. I took her to school later. Kira had a phone appointment with a client and then went into work for the rest. It was my finals week, so I spent the day grading terrible papers, but I took a break to get some groceries. It was a typical afternoon of homework with the boys. Kira was home for bedtime, and then Hannah said she was just going to stay home, but then came over for some cuddling with Apollo after a rough day.

Merritt Goes as a Penguin to School

On Tuesday morning, Kira let me sleep in again because I didn't have to be on the stupid bus to go to the stupid city. I got up to see the boys get on the bus - they got to wear fun things that week and Tuesday was pajama day for the younger two boys, I then spent the entire day grading more terrible papers. I usually get a few gems in there, but this semester seemed especially dismal. Kira had a chiropractor appointment in the morning.

Avey finished school early that day because of finals, but she stayed anyway because she had a stage crew meeting. We picked her up later. Kira took Merritt to a gingerbread house making thing at his school - Jesse didn't want to go.

Of course, it was all cardboard, and it doesn't look like there was candy, so it was a faux gingerbread house.

Hannah came over once the boys were in bed. She's had a rough week with her office job and is thinking that it may be time to look at other options.

I let Kira sleep on Wednesday, then took Avey to school, showered, and we dropped off the van to get the brakes replaced. I was done with grading, but I got working on stuff for next semester. The van was done in the early afternoon, so we picked it up and then Kira took it to pick up Avey early again and they went shopping. I dealt with the boys, and I had to run a very stupid meeting right at dinner time, so I got the boys occupied and did that before we had dinner. Carver and I practiced our cello/guitar duet a little, I read with Jesse, and then Kira and Avey were home at bedtime. Hannah stayed home.

Kira let me sleep in again on Thursday, but I got up to see the boys off. Avey was done at school extra early that day, so I went to get her and we all went for a trip to the hardware store and Costco. Kira spilled to me that she was going to buy me a snow blower for Christmas, but she wanted me to pick it out, so we did that and found just what I was looking for. We then did our Costco run and came home to unload it all.

My students in one class had their final exam scheduled online that morning. It was listed on the syllabus all semester, I talked about it every class for the last two weeks of the semester, and I sent two reminders leading up to it. Of course, there is always someone who just cannot seem to remember that they have a major exam at a scheduled time. I logged on to see who had missed it, entered their zeros, and then did some other work. A little after I entered the grades, I got an email from a student who said that she was sorry she missed the exam - she had been in the hospital with her brother, and so she couldn't take the exam while in the waiting room. I asked her to provide a doctor's note and I'd let her still take it. She sent me a note a little later, but it looked awfully fishy (the doctor had put hyphens in her name where there should be no hyphens). I let the student take it, but then I did some detective work. I found that the student was the last person to edit the doctor's note, and that she had spent 5 minutes editing it. That's very strange. I Googled the doctor, and she was legit, but had hyphens in the wrong places in her name. I called the hospital. They told me that they did not have a record of her brother being at the hospital (I thought maybe they couldn't tell me if he had been in the emergency room, for privacy reasons). I asked if this doctor worked there, and they told me that she had retired a month ago.

I explained what I had found to the student, not accusing her of anything. I wanted to see if she had a reasonable explanation, or if she would come clean. She doubled down - "Oh, my mom sent me the letter, so I'm just as confused as you are." I asked for her to forward me the original email her mother had sent. She sent me an image of the email, but not the email. I asked what room number her brother had been in - she couldn't remember. I asked the nurses' names. She couldn't remember. She told me her mother was not cooperating either and getting mad at her for asking all of these followup questions, so I offered to talk to her mother. She gave me a phone number. I called the number the next day, knowing full well that this would be fake. The girl on the other end sounded 18 years old, claimed to be 40, and verified the student's story. The whole conversation smelled like B.S. She had prepared well, but not well enough.

I needed to catch her in the act, so I decided to Google her mother. I found a possible phone number for her mother (which did not match the one she gave me). I called it, and her real mother picked up. That was a fascinating conversation. She was, indeed, the student's mother. She told me that the student had been at home the morning of the final, and that her brother had not been in the hospital at all this week. Bingo. I informed the student that she would fail the final, get a D in the class, and I reported what she had done to the Provost, the Dean of Students, and her cheer-leading coach. Of course, as soon as I told her that, she confessed and apologized. Apparently she forgot that the class she's enrolled in is forensic science, and I literally teach methods to detect deception!

It was insane how much work that whole thing was for me and for her. What's funny is that if she had simply opened with something like, "Dr. Ricks, I am so sorry I missed the final. I completely forgot it was today. I take full ownership of that. Is it possible for me to take it late, even for partial credit?" there's a good chance I might have let her take it.

I later learned that she had given her coach some doctor's notes earlier in the semester, and so now the coach is wondering how many of those were fake...

In any case, that was good to have over with. Back to Thursday, the boys had fun playing with some large boxes that had brought presents (they were empty by then), and I was done with work, so I put together the snow blower and organized the mud room bathroom better and then cleaned up the garage some. Of course, it started to snow some that evening, and accumulated just a little on the grass and trampoline.

Hannah came over for some TV while Kira was on the phone. Hannah's had quite the week, so is looking forward to spending Christmas in Colorado.

Jesse is back with his ex-girlfriend. Apparently she brought it up (i.e., came crawling back). Jesse took a note to show her the next day at school - it was the note that he had passed her asking her to be his girlfriend from their first go-around. He's a romantic. He says that he likes her because she's "calm, patient, and short."

Kira let me sleep on Friday again! Avey didn't have to go in until later in the morning, so I actually slept even longer and then Kira took a nap later. I met Hannah at the mechanic where she dropped off her car for some work, and then she took me home to drop me off and borrow the truck. Kira left for some shopping, and was home in time to pick up Carver and Avey from school (she had promised Carver to do that). It snowed in the afternoon and accumulated enough that the boys got interested in it. Merritt was the first to venture out after school, and then the other boys joined in.

I took Avey to hang out with friends, and then we watched a Christmas movie that night when the boys were in bed. Hannah had the temple early this morning, so she stayed home.

We expect a lazy day today, but this place is full of surprises. The kids are really excited for the week off, and I'm going to try to relax a little, too. We have just a little bit of last shopping to do, and we'll make sure to get Hannah to the airport!

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