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  • Writer's pictureElijah Ricks

Giving Gratitude

We detailed the house this week in preparation for a visit from Isaac and our Great Uncle, and we overate in the great American tradition!

Last Saturday, Kira took the boys to "help" her clean the church. I stayed home to clean our own dwelling and the rats' house, although it's getting difficult to tell which is which. Avey slept in as she did not have to be at the school until the afternoon for the afternoon show of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She realized that she actually didn't need to be there until 2:00, so I just kept on cleaning. Kira made it home with the boys and so we fed them lunch before I took Avey to the high school. To make it a little special, we swung by Culver's and picked her up some lunch, then also bought some food she could share with her friends to maintain her status as the alpha.

By the time I dropped her off, it was close enough to showtime that I just parked and reserved our seats. However, we wanted to be where we could see Avey during the show, so we were pretty high up, where no one else wanted our seats anyway. Hannah came before the rest of the family, and we enjoyed the show. It was all quite nostalgic for me as I had grown up with the soundtrack playing in the house, so Hannah and I knew all the songs. I was impressed just how well Merritt did during the show - in fact, he got so engrossed by the story that he was sincerely heartbroken when Joseph was thrown in prison by Potiphar. It was good that there was an intermission after that so that we could draw Merritt back into reality for a little while, but even later that night he still needed to process the unfairness of it all. I gave him a long lecture on the importance of the Fourth Amendment and due process, but I'm not sure how much he retained.

In any case, it was an enjoyable show, in no small part thanks to the expert spotlight work from the talented and virtuous crew. We've been singing the songs from the show all week in little bursts.

We departed the high school into a snowy and blistery darkness. Every single day in the colder months since we've moved out here we are shocked by just how dark it gets so early. By 5:00 p.m. it looks like it's 9:30 p.m. We took a few moments to again express our distaste for the darkness, but of course we appreciate how much sunshine we get in the warmer months to make up for it. Avey, of course, stayed at the high school to do their last show in the evening. We did dinner, bathed the boys, and got them to bed. Kira worked on her primary lesson for the next day, and I watched a little TV before going to pick up Avey from the high school.

I slept in just a little on Sunday and then got up to feed and dress the boys for church. They were all done early enough that I showered myself before Hannah picked them up. Kira left early to attend a meeting. I baked some gluten-free brownies for Carver and waited on hold with a company that has been sending me emails thinking I'm a customer placing orders. As near as I can tell, there's some bozo with my same name living in Louisiana who keeps putting down my email address when he sets up accounts. I have been concerned about identity theft, but I've not seen any evidence of that, so it looks like he just doesn't remember his email, or it's similar enough to his that he just keeps entering mine. Anyway, I got at least that company to remove me from their list, and I asked them to please reach out to fake Elijah to get his correct contact information.

Kira made two stops with the kids on the way home to drop off some birthday gifts for kids in the branch. We did lunch at home. It was very cold outside, so nobody wanted to do anything else all day but lounge inside. Kira even took a nap. We had a family night lesson and then some games before bedtime.

Monday was the first of a two-day school week, so the kids were half excited for the upcoming break and half heartbroken that they even had to go at all. Merritt had a bit of a sniffle, but we figured he was fine to still go. I slept in a little, thanks to Kira, and then I took Avey to school. Kira had clients all day, so I worked and then cleaned and prepared for Isaac to fly in that night. I also flushed our water heater, although it may need another flush again soon. I bought some more groceries for Thanksgiving preparation, and then did homework and boredom management when the bus brought the younger two home. It was a little strange to have Avey actually come home that night, and we wonder if she knew what to do with herself now that she has her afternoons back.

Hannah came over early to dognap Apollo as some backup. She went to pick up Isaac from the Gary train station to spare him the transfer to a bus. The Gary train station is a very scary place to be, so she took Apollo as a little backup - he knows how to deal with troublemakers. We got the boys in bed, and then had a nice chat with Isaac once he was here. It was hard to tear ourselves away to get to bed. He'd brought gifts from our mother in Colorado, so we set them out for the kids to find in the morning.

It was a standard Tuesday morning, but the kids were excited to see their gifts. They all tried on the handmade winter beanies, but it was too warm outside to need to wear them just yet. Isaac brought great weather with him. Kira took Avey to school and I caught up on work stuff before we dove right into getting the house in good shape to entertain for Thanksgiving. I spent a couple of hours cleaning our double-oven and stove, which needed some TLC badly. It's so much nicer now - maybe I'll do it more often than every 4.5 years. Kira worked on clutter that had accumulated on every flat surface in the house, and Isaac dove into repairing a little handheld vacuum we have. It works fine, but a few months ago it started making an awful noise whenever we used it. I spent a little time on it but couldn't see anything obvious. Isaac had the courage to take the entire thing apart to find some paper pieces lodged in the fan, causing an awful vibration whenever we used it. It's back to normal now, and we are now desperate to get Isaac to move closer.

We took a little bit of a break in the afternoon to get Isaac caught up on Better Call Saul, as we still had not seen the finale and so we wanted to all watch it together. He did some work while watching and I also got caught up with incoming emails and sorting laundry. The bus came and so the boys finally got to see Isaac.

We'd planned on our favorite pizza place for dinner that evening, but we called about a dozen times and never got through to anyone. We wonder if they closed randomly. We decided to delay it until today, so we'll see if that works out. To get out of the house anyway, we made a trip to the pet store to get some rat food. We picked up Hannah on the way and enjoyed checking out their inventory for a few minutes. Kira put our backup food in the oven while we were gone. Once the boys were in bed for the night, we got Isaac all caught up on BCS, and planned on a big finale party the next night.

We all slept in on Wednesday with no school. Merritt was probably the worst he'd been with cold symptoms. Most of the day was spent on trying to keep the kids entertained and fed. We triple-checked our plans for the meal the next day. We tried to make a plan for a park, but nobody liked the idea, so it fell apart quickly. During the morning humdrum, Merritt set his glasses on his bed and then forgot they were there and stepped on them, breaking the frames. Fortunately, our eyecare place was still open, so we went in and ordered a replacement on warranty. I then rigged the old pair so that they would hold together until the new ones came. Isaac and Jesse joined us to also go to the dollar store while we were out.

Hannah and Isaac went to get us some cinnamon rolls for our finale party (it's a relevant theme to the show), and then we played games with the kids before dinner. Merritt really needed medicine for his runny nose and cough, but he hates them so much that he'd rather die. Kira got him to try it, but he gagged so hard that he threw up, so we gave up on that and put them to bed. Kira entertained herself while the rest of us enjoyed the bittersweet end to our show, made even better by the cinnamon rolls. We went to bed early.

Thursday was Thanksgiving, so I got up at 8 and started with the preparations. Isaac was up not long after and got going on crafting one of the pies. Most of the day was spent with the grownups in the kitchen and the boys on screens. Our great uncle Don made the drive from Michigan, and we were sad that his wife was not up for the drive as she continues to recover from an operation. Still, we had a good time catching up with him as we also finished up the meal preparation.

The food turned out very well, although Merritt wouldn't dare try anything. We enjoyed our Thanksgiving Pepper tradition of passing around a fake pepper and each saying what we are thankful for. It's a tradition that Avey started for us when she was about 5-years-old at my grandmother's house in El Paso. Grandma Ellie gave us a pepper when she moved so that we could continue the tradition in perpetuity, which we will.

After a good meal, we threw together a little concert of singing and each of the kids showing their musical prowess before Don had to make the drive back to beat the early darkness. It all felt too short, but we're not too far away, at least.

We spent most of the rest of the afternoon doing dishes and trying to make room for pie. We played some games in the afternoon and fed dinner to anyone who was interested.

Friday we slept in and then I got up and fed the boys. Once Kira was up I showered and then got started 0n the outside Christmas lights. Isaac came out to help, making short work of it.

Inside, Kira managed the decorating. The kids put up all of our little festive items, although we opted to wait to do the tree until the following day. Merritt had some fun - you may recall that last year he was obsessed with the "12 Days of Christmas" song. He's gotten a little rusty, apparently, because as he was trying to keep up with a little music box that plays the melody, he sang "4 Hauling Birds, 3 French Hens, 2 Turtle Dogs..." We'll get him back on track soon, I'm sure. On that note, he later explained that he had been working hard on one of his video games and had finished some "acheesements" (achievements). Those sound tasty to me.

In the afternoon, Hannah came over to join most of us for a shopping trip to take advantage of some Black Friday sales. Avey, Isaac, Jesse, Hannah, and I all went to three stores and got some good stuff, along with some groceries. It was hard to keep Jesse in the dark about some of his presents I bought, but he was a good sport. He bought a gift for Carver with his own money.

Kira took Merritt to a park while we were at the store. He felt well enough to play hard, and made some friends there. Kira gave some free therapy to their mother while the kids played.

Once we were all home, we gathered trash to put out, and then admired the Christmas lights once it was dark. We played some more games together before bedtime. Hannah didn't stay over as she had to be up early for the temple this morning, so we watched a movie without her.

This morning was a normal one. The weather is still nice, so we hope to get outside soon. We'll do the Christmas tree once Avey is up and see what other kind of mischief we can get into.

It's always difficult to get back into gear for school/work after the nice break, but we'll do what we can. I have just 2 weeks of classes left in the semester, so I think I can hold on. Isaac leaves us again on Monday, and may not be back before he starts his flight school.

We hope you all had a great Thanksgiving, too! We're thankful to have you in our lives!

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