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  • Writer's pictureElijah Ricks


This was a week of lots of togetherness, both voluntary and otherwise...

Last Sunday, Kira had arranged, in a short time, a neighborhood barbecue. It was to be one of the few days of the week with good weather, and she and our next-door neighbor had been discussing it, and so she finally decided to do it before the weather turned too cold. After church, we started the setup in our front yard. Our grill is built into our stove, so we don't have an outdoor one. We borrowed from another neighbor. It was open for people to just come by whenever. I had cooked all of our burgers by the time the first person showed up, but it ended up being a pretty good turnout. A lot of people stopped by, saying they couldn't stay long, but were there chatting for a long time. Nobody else brought anything to grill, but a lot of people brought side dishes.

The boys wanted no part of the event, as it was out of the ordinary. Still, Hakan played with the neighbor kids the whole time, probably still insisting that it was some sort of civilly disobedient protest or something. Carver ate his food, at least, but then he disappeared, going to a neighbor's house. Anyway, after a while, I went to feed our kids inside our house like a big, stinky load of party poopers, and then started the cleanup while Kira continued to chat with everyone.

Monday, I expected the plumber to come and check out the sump pump. I was told to expect the plumber between 10 and 2, so I cleared out the pantry so that there was access, and then I went down into the crawlspace to set up my work light (I find that they often bring only flashlights). I then worked from the kitchen table for the rest of the day so that I could keep an eye out. Kira left for work earlier than usual, and then stayed all day because she had new clients all spaced out. Her appointments went well, although with new people it takes a few sessions to really get at the core of the issue and then come up with a treatment plan. Still, things went well.

Back at home, I worked, and waited for the plumber. the 2:00 window closed, and so I texted, asking if there was an updated ETA. I got the response that they probably wouldn't be coming that day. Oh. That would have been very nice to know several hours ago so that I could have left the house to get some other things done. I was quite annoyed, and then the boys' bus arrived, so it was time for homework and such.

Hakan reported that he had lost one of the earrings he had worn to school for the first time. He was pretty sure it was on the bus, but he didn't seem all that concerned about it. He said that his classmates asked him about them, but nobody gave him a hard time. He hasn't worn the other one at all since then, so I wonder if he was disappointed by their lack of response, or maybe somebody was mean about it and he just didn't want to tell me. He was interested in earning more money for other things, so he tried vacuuming the stairs again. Still, he just didn't get the dog hair, even after I had cleaned out the vacuum hose. I again paid him the lower end of what we'd agreed, and then I finished the job.

Carver was in a mood. He spent way too much of his time on video games, despite my warnings, and then ran out of time to do his homework. He was to interview me about my life a little, and then he thought that he was supposed to compose an essay about it. Kira was pretty sure that he just needed to do the interview and that they would do the essay at school the next day, but I let him sweat about having not gotten it done. That way maybe he would make better choices with his time management in the future.

Tuesday morning, Avey missed the bus due to an alarm clock issue. I had to go to Chicago, so Kira got the boys fed and then drove Avey. It was a good and busy day for me. The plumber did come, but it was a very strange situation. The plumber told Kira that she was in the process of transitioning to a woman, and so warned her not to be surprised by her appearance, but then she showed up wearing heels and a dress to go down into our crawlspace. I'm no expert, but that seems like the wrong equipment for the job. She said she had 20 years of experience, but spent only 5 to 10 minutes down there and then declared the sump pump just fine. I knew that wasn't right, because I personally filled the pump with maybe 20 gallons of water and it never turned on. I decided that I would have to look at it again and see what happens.

I was looking forward to relaxing a bit on the train home, but I got a call about our home insurance. They were saying that they hadn't received the payment from our mortgage company. That led down a very deep rabbit hole. They just had the wrong loan number, but then I discovered as I was trying to deal with it that they had also increased our annual premium by 50%. That's a lot, so I tried to figure out what was going on. It was enormously frustrating trying all of this on the train, using only my phone to access documents and such. Long story short, after several more calls over the next few days, I decided to ditch this company and get a new insurer.

Anyway, Kira made us all French toast for dinner and then she left for a meeting at church. I went into the crawlspace and troubleshot for maybe 15 minutes. I discovered that the sensor was working, but the floating thing was obstructed by a pipe that went too far into the bucket, so that it was easy to get stuck. I cut off that portion of the pipe, and so now I will have to go back down in another week or two to see if that fixed the problem. I left the plumber a terrible review for lack of professionalism, and then put the kids to bed.

Wednesday, Avey was up especially early because we'd been told that the bus would be there 20 minutes earlier than usual after a new route was made. So she got up and ready, and then waited on the front porch for 20 minutes waiting for the bus to arrive at its normal time. The bus driver then told her that the new time was basically the same as before, so that was a very confusing and unnecessary ordeal. Anyway, we got the boys off to school, and then Kira got ready and left for the temple in Chicago. I had been paid, so I took the truck in to get registered, and then I went to Costco for our monthly restocking. I then brought it all home and unloaded by myself, then dealt with my day job emails that had come in while I was out. The boys came home, and Kira picked up Avey on her way home from the temple. I took Avey to the dentist to get 2 teeth pulled so they are out of the way for her permanent ones. It rained cats and dogs the entire afternoon and evening.

Speaking of dogs, we didn't see Hannah for most of the week because she was dog-sitting for the branch president. When she does that, she usually sleeps over at their house, as that dog needs lots of attention.

My train was delayed on Thursday morning for some computer issue, but they were all delayed, so I just caught the one that usually comes before mine and I was there only about 10 minutes later than usual. Kira had a rough morning getting boys to school, so she then napped. I had good classes, but felt pretty drained afterwards. That evening was the trunk-or-treat thing at the boys' school. It was all outdoors at tables rather than cars, but it was nice because it was pretty quick to get through. We easily spent more time getting costumes figured out than we spent at the actual event.

Carver went as Harry Potter, Merritt was a skeleton (obviously), and Hakan was a ninja. Avey went as a witch, but we missed a picture of her, so here's one of her in her stage makeup instead:

When we came home, they were of course all hyper from the sugar, so they bounced around for several minutes before finally getting to bed.

I had ordered a new bumper for the truck the day before and it arrived while I was at work (very fast!), so my brain was busy installing it all day. Once the boys were in bed, and while Kira was on the phone with her mom, I went out to start figuring out exactly how to do it. I was mostly concerned with supporting its weight while removing the old one and then putting on the new one. I figured that part out pretty easily, and so then I just removed the old one.

The Duct Tape is Covering a Very Rusted and Corroded Metal Beam

Then, it was pretty simple to put the new one on. What took most of my time was disconnecting the plate lights and then trying to connect the new ones. I finally gave up until the next day, but the new bumper was all the way on.

The next day I realized that the problem was that the new plug didn't fit exactly into the old plug, so I just cut the wires for the new plug and wired the new lights onto the old plug. Works perfectly now.

Merritt woke us up during the night with a stuffy nose. He was very sniffly, and so Kira got him back to bed and then we kept him home on Friday. Avey also stayed home for a bit of a mental health day. She did all of her assignments electronically, and so we hoped that the low-key day would help with her very long and late rehearsal that night. I got my work done, and Kira had a phone appointment. I then went to cut the grass before the rain started, but it drizzled on me most of the time I cut the front, and then it was pouring down by the time I finished, so I didn't get to the backyard. In the afternoon, I took apart the old bumper to then take the metal to the scrap place for a little cash. Avey came along and then we made a couple other stops.

We expected my little brother, Isaac, to come that night. He flew in for Hannah's birthday, so we worked to clean up the house a bit, got Avey to her rehearsal, and I went for a few groceries. Kira was out on a walk with the boys and Apollo when I got home, and then we did dinner. Isaac's train was delayed, so the boys didn't get to see him until the next day, but we stayed up late having a good chat, and then he went with Hannah to spend the night at her place.

Saturday was Hannah's birthday! Avey still had rehearsal in the morning, and it was a dress rehearsal, so Kira helped her with makeup, and then drove her. It was at a new place, about 25 minutes away, so we had arranged to run a few errands in that area. Kira did those things while I fed the boys and cut the grass in the backyard. I showered, and then got the two youngest boys ready for the park down near Avey's rehearsal. We played for a good long time and then went to pick her up and come home for lunch. Hannah and Isaac joined us for opening her presents and enjoying her ice cream cake:

It was lots of fun, and the cake was very sweet. Merritt couldn't even get through most of his.

We all retired to the backyard to enjoy the sunshine that seems so rare lately. Suddenly, every single child between 5 and 10 in the county showed up in our yard, too. It was wild - we went from just us to about 6 neighbor kids from different houses in a span of maybe 10 minutes! Anyway, Kira helped them try out archery, and Isaac played dodge ball with them. I played catch, and we all tried to keep Apollo from eating everyone.

After a while, Hannah and Isaac left to get some peace and quiet, and I left to put some air in my truck tires before picking up fast food for dinner. After bedtime, Hannah and Isaac came back with their food, and we watched a movie.

This morning, Merritt came into our room early complaining of an upset stomach. Kira gave him some food, thinking he must be overly hungry, but then he threw it up about 30 minutes later. We've had him resting, and he's thrown up twice now, but he is keeping down a cracker as I write this, so we hope he's feeling better. The poor little guy is a good trooper.

There's a Linger Longer event at church today, so Kira took some food, and the other boys are thinking up ways to complain through the whole thing. We get Isaac here for the rest of the day, so we'll do our best to get our fill without getting him sick...

This next week promises to be more craziness, especially if Merritt's illness spreads at all. Stay tuned...

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