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  • Writer's pictureElijah Ricks


We left off last week thinking we just couldn't squeeze in everything we needed to do before leaving on Monday, so we planned to delay our departure until Tuesday, which almost still didn't happen...

Sunday morning we were up early to get ready for church. It was a tough morning getting the kids fed and ready in a house that isn't ours to go to a ward where they don't know anyone. Still, we made it in time, and the kids were good. It was fun to see Nana Laura directing the music. After Sacrament Meeting, I took the kids back to Nana's to pick up a few refrigerator items that we'd left there (but would need later). Nana came, too, and so we hung out for a little while, enjoying another round of baseball pitching in the backyard. Once our time was up, we headed back to Grandma Jeri's to change clothes. Kira and Grandma got back from church and saw that a new neighbor was out working on tree trimming, so they went over to meet him and chatted for several minutes. Once they were done with that, we went to visit Kira's dad's grave, surprised with how much the relatively new site has grown.

After that visit, we went back to Grandma's for lunch, and then Kira and I worked on what we could pack for our long journey home. We came across lots of treasures and old memories. Avey had a good time checking out some old costumes.

Grandma found three ski goggles that she wouldn't take with her when she moves, so she offered them to the boys. They had a good time with them, and Avey even made up an elaborate game about needing them for our upcoming space mission (drive home).

We had a nice dinner and chat that evening over elk and baked potatoes, glad that Grandma was feeling better.

Monday was an awful roller coaster of emotions. I didn't sleep great, haunted by thoughts of all that I had to still finish to get home. I was scheduled to pick up our rented trailer that morning, so I took off early to get gas in the van, and then go get the trailer. I got there just as the employee in charge did, and she was very pleasant. She got a kick out of my mom when she called her number to make sure it worked, and my mom told her to tell me she loves me. We got the paperwork all settled and then went out to hook up the trailer. They couldn't get the right turn signal to blink. Instead it just stayed solid. So they couldn't let me take the trailer. They sent me to a U-Haul station about 12 minutes away to see if they could find the problem. I waited in line there for what seemed like a long time, and then the guy told me he wasn't sure they could get the car in that day. Their tech said that it might just be a splice that was done improperly, which they could get to later, but if it was anything beyond that, they probably couldn't help. I took a gamble and said to go ahead. I regret that now.

I asked Kira to come and get me, and then we got going on packing and lunch before I heard from U-Haul at 3 that they couldn't fix it, so no trailer for us, and now that the day was almost over, there was virtually no chance at leaving on Tuesday as we had planned. I was enormously frustrated. I started making calls and every auto electrician said that they could probably fit me in next week. No good. I contemplated just renting a truck instead, and just forgetting the entire trailer. I had already spent so much money on Apollo's poison affair that I just couldn't take the thought of the expense of changing the hotel reservation and the cost to fix this stupid wiring issue that the previous owner had no doubt done by himself.

Long story short, I called a place who said that they could look at it if I could bring the car to them. Kira took me to U-Haul to pick up the van, where they at least didn't charge me for their incompetence. It was a 30-minute drive to these mechanics, but we made it by about 4:00. I needed to pick up the trailer by 5:00, so I had very little hope that we'd make it in time, as it was a 17-minute drive. These mechanics were great, though. They were older men and veterans, and they clearly knew their stuff. They got going on it, confident that they would have us on the road before they closed. I called the trailer place, and she said she could wait for me until 5:30, but there just was no way I could pick it up after hours (although, I don't know what they could have done - I already paid for it). Kira and I even thought about transferring our reservation to a closer U-Haul station, as we'd passed several on the way to the mechanics. Anyway, Kira left me with the van to go get the kids ready for the move and do a little more packing up. The mechanics got us fixed up, and then started to put it all back together and were about to wrap it up when I saw that the right tail light wasn't on at all. I'm glad I caught that, because that looked like it was a separate issue, but an easy fix. They then gave me the bill: $31.50. I gave them $40 and told them to keep the change for taking care of us so well and so quickly. I got out of there about 5:00, and drove as fast as I could (legally) to the trailer place, where she got me all checked out and I was on my way, so glad to have that nonsense behind me. Next time, I'll make sure the trailer hookups work before I reserve the trailer, and if they aren't sure they can fix it, I'll just take it to someone who is sure.

It was at least kind of fun that the highlighted place on the trailer is the town where my aunt lives:

We were about an hour late to our planned dinner at Nana Laura's, but we were glad to get a chance to say our last goodbyes and enjoy a good meal after such a rough day.

Turf Wars Between Apollo and Smokey Joe

As a parting gift, Nana let the kids each pick out a stuffed animal from the stash her kids had accumulated.

That seemed to make the drive home just a little more tolerable.

We then went back to Grandma's to start loading the trailer and van. We had accumulated a lot of stuff, and were starting to worry we might not have enough room in the trailer for everything, but we had plenty of room, so we brought back two dressers, and Avey and I even went back to Nana's to pick up a cot she had offered (and to give her a few last hugs).

Tuesday I was up very early and tired, feeling the need to get back to Indiana so that I could catch up on my day job. I could also hear my house projects calling out to me. We did our last packing, and said our final goodbyes to that house, realizing that we would not stay there again after Grandma moves in the next few months. It's the house Kira grew up in, so it's been emotional, although she's handling it very well. The drive went well, although driving with the trailer added a few challenges to parking and causing us to stop for gas more often.

We arrived at the hotel in Council Bluffs, Iowa around 6:15. We ate a quick meal and then Kira took the kids swimming while I walked Apollo and then showered. Hannah had ridden with Isaac to Utah, and then she flew back to Indiana. She made it to her car while I was out with Apollo. She wasn't there with us to room with half of the kids. I slept in a room with Hakan and Carver, while Kira roomed with Avey, Merritt, and Apollo.

We all had a bit of a rough night, and so we were all on edge and cranky in the morning. We got in the car and then ate breakfast at a restaurant. It was good, but cost us some time. Anyway, it was another long day of driving. We were all sick of being on the road, and sick of being tired. I drove the whole way, while Kira managed the kids. We almost switched drivers when we crossed into Illinois, but we were glad we didn't when we hit a heavy storm of rain and lightning. Visibility was poor, and the trailer felt a little heavier with the water and wind, and blocking the rearview mirror. We made it through just fine, but it was certainly an adventure. We tried a last stop for the bathroom about an hour from home, but that turned out to be a waste (#pun) of our time as every place we tried was locked up. Thanks, Illinois. We gave up and just went home, arriving around 6:00 p.m. We unloaded the trailer and van, and then I went to drop off the trailer and pick up some milk and fruit and such to sustain us. Hannah came over to do some laundry and tell us a little about how her Utah trip went.

That night I slept gloriously, finally. I dragged myself out of bed because I had so much to do. I started the kids' breakfast and then cut the grass after 2 weeks of growth. I then worked on our grocery list for our monthly Costco trip, impressed by how little we needed. Hannah and I went to make the Costco run, stopping by way of the hardware store. We needed only one cart this time, which never happens. Once we'd unloaded it at home, I got back to unpacking all of our crap. The neighbor kids were aching to play with Hakan, so we tried to keep them in the yard so that we could unpack with relative peace. Hakan was then invited to swim at a neighbor's new pool, so that turned into an ordeal. Kira ended up going to supervise and chat, and then Carver and Avey went over to join in the pool fun while I kept on unpacking. Avey had been working hard all afternoon on several yard projects so that she could earn some money. She did a great job, and really made a dent in the jungle that had sprung up while we were away.

We were still very tired from the long 2 weeks, but Merritt still managed to come and wake us up twice on Friday morning. I just got up with him the second time so that I could get breakfast going and then start reading a dissertation for what was hopefully the last time. I then did other grading and such when Kira took over. I had a bunch of errands to run in the afternoon, so I did those while Kira bathed the boys from the stink of the trip. When I got home, I got fixated on a problem I'd been thinking about for a few weeks. Our bathroom fans do not work well. I'd been thinking about just replacing both, but I hadn't actually looked into what the problem was. I finally decided to check and see the power of the kids' bathroom fan, and saw that it is more than powerful enough, so I then faced the problem of why it didn't seem to be expelling the air from the bathroom. Anyway, I figured out after some time that the dampers were not opening at all, and went into the attic to discover that it was a problem with air having too confined a space to go so that the fan's power was reduced. Kira took over for bedtime so that I could go to the hardware store for a larger duct, and so then I fixed that once the kids were in bed. Now the dampers open, so we should see much more effectiveness in the fan.

Anyway, Hannah caught a cold in Utah, so she's been feeling crummy. She opted to stay home that night, so we started a movie without her.

Kira had a busy day on Saturday. She got up early to get ready for a Relief Society activity, although she did not expect anyone to come. Avey opted to go along so that she could join Kira for shopping afterwards. While they were out, I fed and managed the boys. Hakan mostly played with neighbors, and Carver was glued to a video game. Merritt was sort of back and forth between playing and watching shows. I was feeling pretty good about my ductwork, so I got going on other house projects. I finished the other half of the shelves in our piano room, and now we just need to get the room cleaned up and organized:

I also got my garage more organized, and fixed the parking guide that the kids had pulled out of the ceiling. I checked our master bathroom exhaust fan, but it seems to be doing its job, and should be powerful enough, so I'm leaning toward just replacing it with a newer one. I moved Carver's new dresser into his room, and got him working on moving into it.

In the afternoon, I kicked the boys off screens and they all played with neighbor kids. Kira and Avey eventually made it home. Avey came with a haul after spending quite a bit. I took Apollo to a playdate, and Merritt came along. He demanded that we stop by a park, so he and I played there for a good while.

When we played hide-and-seek, I found a basketball in a bush, so then he and I played with that for a good while.

We eventually went home for dinner, but then he monopolized my time with trampoline playing and some baseball. He's lucky he's so cute. I was wiped out by the time they finally went to bed.

Hannah came over, still feeling pretty crummy, but it allowed us to finally all watch more of a series we've been trying to finish (Loki). At this rate, I'm not sure we'll ever get back on a normal schedule of earlier bedtime. Still, this is what summers are for. We're planning a Sunday meal of chicken Caesar salads this afternoon, and this next week promises to be full of me getting caught up on my day job. Hakan starts another summer camp this week at the Dunes. Now he's in a different age group than Carver, who starts in another week. We are now less than a month away from all of the children being in school [gasp]!

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