We spent most of this week seeing very little of our older two kids, and now we are seeing none of Kira while she is on her own personal vacation.
Last Saturday afternoon, we went to an open house for a young man in the branch who had graduated high school. Hannah rode along with us. There was great food and some games for people. Merritt had been aching to go to a park all day, so we agreed to walk him over to a park in that neighborhood after we had all made our appearance and caught up with some of the people there. Avey and I then walked over to the park with Merritt, where he showed off his skills on the playground, scripting what he wanted Avey to say, and when. He really enjoyed the spit-take she did when he did something impressive. Kira and the rest of the crew joined us not too much later, and so we let the kids play before packing them into the van to head home. The boys hadn't eaten much at the place with the free food, so we fed them at home and then put them to bed while Hannah walked Apollo. The boys had been so grumpy that morning that we hoped they'd sleep well. I worried a little because there was a forecast for more thunderstorms that night.
The thunder never did come, but it was plenty wet all of Sunday morning. I got the kids off to church and then cleaned off my tool bench and did more work on that closet door that I had reversed (it needed some adjusting and I still hadn't put in the new latch hole). I got as far as I could and then showered and got going on lunch for when they got home from church (I finished the rest of the door later in the week - now it's great).
Hannah showed up first with Jesse - apparently he and Merritt were not getting along so that it seemed best to keep them separate. After lunch, I cleaned the rat cage and then there was talk of going to the dog park, but the boys got invited to the neighbor's pool. That easily trumped the park, and so Kira took them to do that, and Avey walked over to join a little later. I was all alone with Apollo, so I took him to walk around a nature preserve. It was hot and humid, but pleasant as I didn't see another person for about an hour, but I saw a big doe about 5 minutes after we got there. We were there for about an hour before heading home, just beating the rest of the family back.
We had a brief family night and then went into the backyard for a game, but then we found three small toads hopping around in the grass, and sort of worried that we would stomp on them if we ran around, so we played a shorter game and came inside. I was a little nervous about how many toads I might kill with the mower the next day.
Merritt was up extra early on Monday, which was not helpful because we already had to be up to get Avey and Carver out the door for their day camp at the Indiana Dunes State Park. It was helpful that Carver's friend's mom took them for us after we had taken her son every day the week before. At home, I offered to take Jesse to the YMCA to try out racquetball. He fancies himself a fitness guru, so he really likes the vibe at that place. Merritt came along, too. They had fun whacking the ball around, but did not care too much to learn any rules. That's okay, because it became apparent that the game will be much easier once they've grown a couple of feet taller.
We checked out the other rooms, but the rules state that they are not allowed in most of them, much to Jesse's dismay. I was glad to find their fun room before we left:
The toys are for much younger kids, mostly, but that didn't stop these guys from tapping into their inner 3-year-old.
We went home for me to cut the grass (I saw 3 toads that I carefully avoided). Kira left for work, and so I took the boys with me to walk some trails while we waited to pick up Carver and Avey (they were done at 3). They had a good, albeit long, day. So once they were home, they just plugged into their screens and vegged out. Kira was home around bedtime to help get the kids to bed.
Tuesday, Kira got up before me to get the kids ready for camp, and I came downstairs as they were leaving. I did work, and then Kira took the younger two boys to meet up with a family who had visited the branch on Sunday. They apparently live in Tanzania as some sort of diplomats, but they own a property in the branch boundaries and so they were visiting. Anyway, Kira had arranged to join them for a hike in the area. I did some work, then other chores, then finally did some relaxing with the house to myself. I fed them and then picked up the older two kids from camp, along with Carver's two best friends who also attended camp. They played at our house for an hour or so before their parents came for them. It was a standard night after that.
Wednesday, Kira was up before me again, so I slept a little longer and hardly helped with breakfast. I was up later to do my job and then took the younger two boys swimming at the middle school. Merritt swam for about 30 minutes and then wanted to take a hot shower in the locker room, so I went with him where he just jabbered on about everything that came to his little mind. He sustained that for about 20 minutes and then we went back to the pool. Jesse was occupied with a friend from school who was also at the pool. He and Maria had fun challenging each other to races or other feats of physical ability. We left when the pool closed while Kira picked up the older two from camp. We chilled a bit at home for a while, and then I fed two of the boys dinner and left to take Avey to an appointment. I did some shopping on that trip, and then we came home to finish getting the boys to bed after Kira got them all ready. Kira worked on packing while Hannah, Avey, and I started a movie.
Thursday was full of cleaning and preparation for Kira's friend, Amber, to arrive. We got the older kids off to camp and then worked on getting Kira packed and making our house look like it is suitable to sustain human life. I cleaned bathrooms, vacuumed, and washed some windows, and Kira kept in touch with Amber about her flight, which was very close to being canceled due to some unruly passenger possibly causing the plane to have to divert (on the flight before Amber's). Fortunately, the flight was still on, so Kira made the drive to Chicago to pick her up. I kept cleaning and picked up Avey and Carver from camp. Avey and Jesse helped me clean the rat cage so that the stench would be semi-tolerable, and I got everybody fed and ready for bed before Kira and Amber made it home. We caught up, had dinner, and Amber enjoyed seeing our bats and fireflies before it got too dark. Then she and Kira went to finalize their plans for their vacation and Hannah, Avey, and I finished a movie.
Friday morning I got the kids ready for camp while Kira got ready to leave for her trip. They left around 10 and I did some work and then got the younger boys ready to go to Avey and Carver's beach day at camp. That was rough as my phone was exploding with new fires to put out the entire time I was trying to get everybody ready and in the car. Hannah joined us for the beach, and it was a beautiful day for it - not overly hot, and plenty of sunshine.
We had a great time, and Hannah and I took shifts staying near either boy. Merritt led me up a sand dune and about halfway up I came across some bones. Because I teach forensic science, I wondered if I could discount the possibility that they were human. I really doubted they were, but had read enough cases about murder that I wanted to be sure. Hannah had the idea to ask one of the naturalists who ran the kids' day camp, so I did that and she assured me the remains were from a whitetail deer. That's just what the murderer would want me to think, though, so now I don't know what to do...
Anyway, we packed up when it was time to head back in to see the week summary presentation, and then went home to get the sand out of us. However, as soon as we got home, our neighbors were leaving for a camping trip and wanted to drop off a gift for the boys - a backyard water obstacle course! Naturally, Jesse and Merritt simply had to test it out immediately, so I set up just the slippery slide part and let them tire themselves out while I showered and cleaned up from the beach.
It's cool and all, but I don't think it compares to my epic homemade slippery slide they usually enjoy.
With Kira gone, I tossed out all rules of nutrition at mealtime and we did pizza for dinner. Hannah went home to shower and such, and then picked up the pizza on her way back here. Actually, I did feed the boys a normal meal and made the pizza just the fun part. Merritt hadn't ever tried pizza, so I tried to convince him to give it a whirl. He said, "Daddy, you like it?" I told him I like pizza a lot. He thought for a moment and then said that he would try a slice "tomorrow." I offered him a bite of my slice, and he took the tiniest nibble you can imagine, then he said it was really good. I offered him more, but he declined. I'm not sure he'll ever appreciate the glory and wonder of pizza at this rate.
Anyway, I got the boys to bed and then the rest of us watched TV before calling it a night. Kira checked in briefly at night to let me know she was okay, but otherwise I will have to hear about her adventures next week.
Saturday has been wild. I slept in some, but then got up to feed the kiddos. Jesse and Merritt have been playing with neighbors a lot. Merritt was scheduled to go to a birthday party at 3 this afternoon, but he was acting like we needed to leave at any minute all day. He put his swimsuit on around 10:00 this morning. I cut the grass again, without killing any toads (I think), and then I spent far too long trying to find the source of the creaking noise on my truck. It drives (#pun) me nuts, and I have lubricated every spot on the suspension that I can think of, but just can't seem to find what it is. Anyway, I had to stop and load up the kids to take Avey to join her friends as they worked on getting started playing Dungeons & Dragons. Some bad directions sent us on a wild goose chase, but she eventually made it there. While the boys and I were back home, they got invited to a friend's pool, so it was good that Merritt was in his swimsuit all day anyway. I showered while I had a few minutes to myself and then dashed over to pick up Avey, dropped her at home so I could pick up the boys, and then dropped Carver off to take Merritt and Jesse to the birthday party. Jesse just wanted to see what all they had going on. I was worried that Merritt might freak out a little at me leaving, but there were enough of his school chums there that he started partying right away. Jesse got some popcorn and then came home with me, a little sad that he couldn't stay (only Merritt was invited).
I'll pick Merritt up soon, and then tonight will be the usual stuff, I'm sure. Kira gets back on Monday sometime, so I hope to hear that she relaxed and had a great break. Maybe we can get the house relatively tidy before she's back!