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  • Writer's pictureElijah Ricks

For Teen

It was another busy week, spent mostly preparing for and celebrating Avey's birthday!

Kira took the kids to a park after church on Sunday, because Merritt had wanted to go to it for a long time. She packed them up a lunch and everything, so they had a good time with that.

She then came home and she and I prepared a meal, for which Hannah joined us. We filled the rest of the day with a family night lesson and game of Thimble Full of Water.

Monday was the standard morning rush of getting kids fed and to school, and then I graded what assignments had been submitted over the weekend. Kira went to work, and then I took Apollo to the dog park in the truck. The little dork didn't play very much, though. He seemed shy and nervous around the other dogs. He tried to play a little with one of them, but it was just a little too young, I think. Anyway, I bought some refrigerant for the truck's air conditioning system, because it just blows hot air, and that was my best guess about what's wrong. I messed with that for a while and discovered that it's probably a worn out compressor instead. Ugh. I can replace that myself, but I think I'd might as well wait until the spring, now that the temperatures are cooling down.

I did some more of my day job once Kira was home. She was in good spirits after making some good breakthroughs with a client who had been avoiding some core issues.

In the afternoon, I took the truck to talk to a mechanic that Hannah referred me to. He works at the bus barn. I wanted to see if he could replace a broken leaf spring shackle. It's a cheap part, and a pretty easy job, but I don't have a way to lift up the back of the truck and lower the differential to even get to it. Also, it's rusty down there and it seems like it might require some tools I don't have. He's a nice guy, and he told me he'd have to look up some parts to give me a solid estimate...

During the bedtime rush, I got an email from the university that they had decided to move all courses to remote for the week in an attempt to mitigate some of the breakthrough cases of COVID-19 that have been on the rise on campus. That was sort of nice to not have to get up as early to catch the train, but then I didn't get to drive myself to the station in the truck.

So then Tuesday was classes over video from my desk at home. I then did more grading, and tried taking Apollo to a nature preserve in town. The weather was very pleasant, and so we had a nice walk before getting home to see the boys. Carver tried out his coding class for the first time, and he seems to have enjoyed it.

That evening, Avey and Kira went to a Relief Society activity so that they could go shopping afterward. It was supposed to be an event learning how to make Pakistani flat bread, but the teacher came unprepared and so tried to improvise using the wrong tools, and set off the fire alarm. Apparently, because the church is not a residence, the fire department also had to come and shut off the alarm themselves. So that was quite the drama.

Wednesday was Avey's birthday, but it was also very busy, so we'd planned to celebrate on Saturday. She was off to school like normal, and then had a choir rehearsal after school. She then got to come home for a couple of hours before going to a youth activity. She did request our favorite pizza for dinner, and so Kira went to pick that up after bringing her home from choir.

I took Apollo to another park, and while I was wandering around with him, I called another mechanic to ask what they would charge to replace my broken shackle. They gave me an estimate, and it was a good price, so I thought I'd see what the bus barn guy said. He texted me an hour later and said that he wouldn't have time to do it, so he referred me to the mechanic I had just called. Easy enough. I scheduled to take the truck in on Friday to get both shackles replaced at the same time (even though the other one wasn't broken yet).

I came home to put an eye bolt on the riding mower and then to loop through a pull string to pull up the blade guard so that I can more easily fit through the gate. I was pretty proud of it - I used an existing bolt hole already there, and this new eye bolt fits perfectly. It sure made things easier, and it was a cheap project.

The younger boys were very interested in baseball this week, so when the neighbors came over, they were swinging bats and asking me to pitch to them. Hakan even tried out a baseball glove we've had for a while, trying to play catch. He'll need some more practice, but it was nice to spend time with him.

Necklace He Made for a Neighbor

Hakan's been all over the place with his interests lately. Some days he'll talk about wanting to make YouTube videos, and then others he'll talk about wanting a dune buggy. He talked about making a parachute today. He's mentioned going to a shooting range twice. After giving up on Tae Kwon Do, he mentioned horseback riding, and then he said he wanted to start going to the Boys and Girls Club after school. It's so hard to know what to help this guy focus on.

Hakan Tries Some Clip-on Earrings

Thursday was another morning of teaching from home, although classes went very well, considering the circumstances. I then did more grading before heading to the auto parts stores to look for a new tailgate cable (one is broken on the truck). I found it at the third store and replaced it with ease. I then got more moved in, getting a box of tissues for the truck, putting in the jumper cables from my old white truck, and making little tweaks to make it more my own.

In the afternoon, Kira felt very nauseated for a long time. She sat on the couch and tried to keep it together, and even fell asleep. She awoke feeling better, but it was pretty weird. She's been having headaches of various intensities most of the week, but seems to have made it through the worst of them. Just before dark, she felt much better, so took the younger two boys on an evening walk around the neighborhood.

Right: Merritt as a "Sneaky Ninja."

Kira let me sleep in on Friday morning, but Apollo didn't let that last. He was whining outside my door at 7:15. That got me up with enough time to come downstairs and say goodbye to the boys before the bus came. I then showered and worked before I took the truck into the mechanic and Kira picked me up. I was nervous all morning that they would call and say that they couldn't fix it, but they called at 3 and said that they had been working on it since I dropped it off and it took them that long to replace the broken one. They asked if I would let them keep it over the weekend so that they could soak the second one in some cleaner and lubricant and hopefully it would come off more easily. I felt bad for how long they'd spent on it, and didn't really need it, so it's still there now. They aren't charging me any more for labor, at least, and I'm just glad that I didn't try to mess with it myself.

Kira was dealing with another bad headache, so I took over her errands to go shopping for some last things for Avey's birthday, some consolation gifts for the boys, and a few groceries. I got all that done, and then came home to cut the grass.

That afternoon, Kira got a nice card in the mail from someone she doesn't know in the stake. They thanked her for her talk at stake conference the week before. That was really nice, and meant a lot to her.

Some of Merritt's Headbands. He Makes Them Purple for Kira

I took Avey to her rehearsal that night, and then when I drove by the grocery store nearby, I saw that they have bales of straw for sale. I was on the lookout for some, because one of the gifts I got Avey was a bow and arrow set, as she's enjoyed that at times, and I mentioned some time ago that we could look into setting up a little range in the backyard. Anyway, I ran and bought two and then got a little target all set up in the backyard.

Once the boys were in bed, I went to drop off some treats for Hannah - a little share of what I'd made earlier in the day. She had an early morning the next day, so she stayed home. I then went to pick up Avey from rehearsal, and then we picked out her cake at the store.

Saturday morning, I rolled over around 6 a.m., and my brain lit on fire. I realized suddenly that the bow I had bought for Avey was a right-handed bow, but she's left-handed. I started panicking and trying to decide what to do. Maybe it would be fine. Maybe I should just go see what other bows are available... I also thought she might like a fancy breakfast for the birthday celebration day before she had to go to morning rehearsal.

I just got up and started making pancakes and looking up bows online, making a plan. I got the boys fed, and Avey had a couple of pancakes in the car while we were on the way to rehearsal. I then returned the original bow, found no left-handed bows at that store, and so I went to a sporting goods store nearby and found an ambidextrous bow, so I got that.

After the early morning and no relaxing, I was pretty wiped out for the rest of the day. It was also very rainy, so that didn't help the mood. I got home to find Hakan and Merritt playing in the rain. They wanted to go on a bike ride so that they could go through puddles.

I got Apollo on a leash and went with them, but they mostly fought and Apollo just tried to chase squirrels, so it was not enjoyable.

I went to get Avey from rehearsal, and then we came home for some lunch before going to a mini-golf place with go-karts and an arcade. That was a pretty good time as we didn't get rained on. Merritt has made big improvements in his mini-golf game. He still scored about 150 on the 18 holes, but his cheating is down about 40% from years past. Hakan rode the go-karts with Kira, and they had a good time. Carver got pretty frustrated at mini-golf: he seemed like he needed to go to bed, as he was very cranky most of the day. At least most of us had a good time.

We came home for a quick dinner and then presents and cake. Avey made out like a bandit, and we are blown away by the generous gifts from friends and family. She couldn't try out her bow because it started raining again once we were home. The boys also loved their consolation gifts - Hakan got a little motorized car that needs to be assembled (that's kept him nice and busy). Merritt got some new books to read at night, and Carver got a remote-controlled light bulb to use as a night light. He's convinced that it helped him to pass out right away last night.

This morning, Kira and I slept in a good long while and then got the kids fed. The rain had finally let up, so the kids all went into the yard to shoot the bow.

Avey was very kind to let her brothers take turns trying out her new weapon. Carver popped a balloon on his first try, and Hakan hit the plate target on his first try. Merritt's going to need some more practice, and maybe a smaller bow. So far, Apollo doesn't have any new holes in him, so I think we're doing just fine.

It's general conference today, so everyone was glad to get to stay home, but the boys are still experts at finding things to complain about. If the weather continues to cooperate, we may still find a chance to get them to a park or something...

We'll see if I ever get my truck back tomorrow, and I'm supposed to return to campus on Tuesday, so let's all keep our fingers crossed!

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