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  • Elijah Ricks

Dumb Home

Whew, what a week! We spent a lot of time preparing the kids for school, doing our best to have some fun, and fixing (or trying to fix) problems with the house.


On Sunday I did a little more organizing of drawers to try and get all of the art stuff consolidated and such. I also saved all of Kira's old college files from the ancient floppy disks, putting them on a USB drive. For our lunch, I made orange chicken and caramel dumplings for dessert. Both turned out great. Carver, of course, could not have the dumplings, so I made his caramel separately and put in one of his maple donuts that he has in the freezer. He loved it, so I'll keep this in mind for the future.


In the afternoon, I pushed kids on swings, and Carver rode his bike. Kira then took the youngest two to a park, but Carver opted to stay at home, so he and I took Apollo on a walk. Avey tried to darken her hair back to her original color, but it didn't seem to work very well, so she may try again before school starts. During family night activity in the backyard, a couple of insects caught our eyes just as it was time to go inside.

We enjoyed checking them out, and then all week Merritt has been more interested in reading his book about bugs at bedtime. He makes sure to point out the two we saw in his book.


It was gloriously nice outside, so the kids made it to bed later. Kira was then up filling a food order for someone in the branch, and I sorted laundry before we watched the Olympics for a little while.

The Neighbors' Big Swing

Monday, Kira awoke with a bit of a sunburn and her face was swollen up a bit. It was very strange, and so we kept an eye on it. It seems to have slowly faded away now, but it sure was weird. She left for work in the morning and I cut the grass until I ran out of fuel.


Ever since we got Alexa working in our home, I've been more interested in getting things smart. I've had the patio lights automated for a while, and I like that a lot. So I started thinking about what else we could do. I found out that our electric company has a rebate for smart thermostats, so I had that on the way, and I've been researching smart doorbells, too. To make the smart doorbell work that I want, we need at least 16 volts, so I started a search for our transformer. I looked high and low for it, and even went into the crawlspace on Monday. I didn't find the transformer down there, but I did find that our AC was dripping continually into the crawlspace, so I arranged for a guy to come out later in the week and see if he could fix it.


I finally did find the transformer - it was inside the electrical panel, but I had to remove the whole cover to find it. Anyway, it was only 10V, so I decided that I would replace it later in the week.


Avey rode to the library and to some stores, and Carver was invited to his friend's house for swimming. I took the car to get more gas for the mower, and then Avey and Carver both made it home just in time so that I could take Kira to work and drop Apollo at a play date. He did not play at all, and so I've decided that the other dog is just too high energy for him and we need to give up. Anyway, in the afternoon, I took the younger two boys to a park and then came home to find that our new smart thermostat had arrived. I was excited to get that installed, and so I got the kids their food and then started working on installation.

Merritt at the Splash Pad

That turned out to be a total nightmare. I figured, "Oh, just mark the wires and then plug them all in where they are supposed to go." Well, I did that, and the "smart" thermostat kept telling me that it couldn't detect the blue wire. I made sure it was making good contact, and the same problem resulted. I spent a lot of time on it, and nearly gave up, when I decided to look inside the air conditioner. There was the problem - I found that the other end of the blue wire was not even attached to the unit at all, so I'm not sure how our old thermostat was working, but I got it all connected. I then ran into another, more embarrassing problem when I found that after connecting the blue wire, the smart thermostat said that it couldn't detect any of the wires. I messed around with that for another 10 minutes or so before realizing that there was a trip switch on the panel of the AC unit so that it shut off all the power to the thermostat if the cover was off. I put it back on and the AC came right on. I'm so glad to have figured it out before waiting two days with no AC for a professional to come...


Tuesday, I was up early with my brain going. I was thinking a lot about the drip in the crawlspace. I painted the wall where the old thermostat was, after patching the holes the day before. I then made pancakes while I was up, fed everybody, and then got working on my day job. When Kira was up, I went to our room to work, and then helped with lunch. The two older boys were scheduled for the dentist, so I took them to that, and then traded Kira so she could take everyone but Carver to the eye doctor.


Wednesday was dental appointments for the other kids, and then an eye appointment for Carver. Kira took the kids to the dentist while I worked, and then after lunch, I took Carver and Avey to shop for Carver's shoes for school. We also made a quick stop at the hardware store to get a new transformer for the doorbell. I then took Carver and Hakan to the eye doctor. Hakan just needed his other pair of glasses adjusted, so then he was bored waiting for Carver. Carver got a slight update for his prescription, so he picked out some frames and we got those ordered. They probably won't arrive before school starts on Wednesday, but what can you do?


Once home, I installed the new transformer, then after dinner the AC guy came early. He took a look, and decided that we needed to insulate all of the ductwork in the crawlspace, as the water seems to just be condensation. It sounded ok to me, and I knew I could handle that job.

The kids bathed, and Hannah picked up Avey to go to a youth planning meeting. I planned to work on the insulation the next day, so I spent my evening doing my day job to make up for lost time.


Thursday morning came early. I did a little work after breakfast, and then I went to pick up the stuff I'd need to insulate the crawlspace ducts. That took me several hours before I ran out of material. I had almost enough to finish, so I figured I'd wait a bit and maybe finish it up in a few days. Carver had one of his friends over to our house, so they had a good time, although it kept Kira on her toes. Avey rode her bike into town again, but found that the store she'd hoped to visit closed earlier than usual as they didn't have enough workers to keep it open its normal hours.


Friday was a normal work day for me until about lunchtime, and then I took Avey into the eye doctor's again after lunch. She ordered contact lenses, but she needs to practice putting them in before they'll let her have them. So she went in for a practice session. She made some good progress. We then went to the dollar store where I found some soap holders Kira's been after, and I found a hex wrench set that was the right size to adjust Carver's kick stand - very exciting!


Carver was over at a friend's house again, in their pool, and so I played with Merritt when we got home. Hakan played with neighbor kids. It started raining gently, and then came down hard after Avey and Merritt came home from walking Apollo.


Saturday, Kira got up with Merritt early. I slept in. She fed the kids, and then when I got up I gave all the boys haircuts for school, and then they showered. Hakan was off to play with neighbors again, and Kira got working on some tasks on her list. I had decided that I would finish the insulation job that day, but first I wanted to go into the crawlspace to measure how much I would need. Instead, I found that it was still dripping exactly like before, only it was mostly pooling in the insulation that I put on. I was enormously frustrated with the waste of effort, and decided to rig up a system that would divert the water to the sump pump for now, at least until we can figure out what's really causing the drip. That took a little while, and then I went to the hardware store for supplies for that and some other projects. I came home to install a dehumidifier in the crawlspace, hoping that would be a good idea anyway.


Kira took the kids to a park in the ridiculously hot and muggy weather while I finished in the crawlspace and then helped myself to a well-earned shower. That night after the kids were in bed, I started poking around at the AC unit to see if I could tell what was up. I don't know very much about them, so I was just exploring, but it seems to me that there may be a hole in the drip tray. I suppose we'll see. I contacted the AC guy to have him come back out and take a closer look...


Today, I decided to replace some of the horrifying drywall in the garage. The previous owner had poorly patched several spots on the south wall, using the wrong thickness of drywall.

It has bothered me for a long time, so I decided to just replace the entire section of drywall with the correct size.

That's the stuff. I'm so happy with how it turned out - this was also my first drywall job (I've just done little patches before). I'm going to get some new outlets to replace these old ones, and then I'll do the mudding. Then, finally, I can paint my garage white, instead of the awful beige that it is.


Kira and the kids hung out at a Linger Longer event at church, and Kira provided a lasagna for that. It's another terribly hot and humid day, so I don't know if we're interested in stepping outside again, but I suppose anything's possible.


This next week is the kids' first week back, and Merritt's first ever day of school! We found out that Hakan will have Carver's old teacher, and Merritt has Hakan's old teacher, so we're very glad for that as we liked them both. Avey got her schedule, but hopes to make some changes to it before things start. Avey is interested in joining a production company that's putting on a stage version of Sister Act, and so she's got an audition to plan. We're all excited to see how that goes. Let's also hope that we can fix this stupid air conditioning leak...

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