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  • Writer's pictureElijah Ricks

I.R.S. and Pain in the Neck (Coincidence?)

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

This week was a study in ups and downs, feeling like an experiment designed to test my limits in sanity.

The weekend was mostly busy. It was General Conference, and also rainy, making it a day of sticking around in the house. Kira spent her time watching conference and also doing loads of laundry, and I mostly focused on keeping the kids fed and docile while I also scrubbed our two bathtubs clean and vacuumed the stairs. That night, Hannah came over to join the ladies of the house in watching a special session for women, so I put the boys to bed and then when the session was over, we watched some TV.

Sunday didn't feel too different, but I was determined to get out of the house before I lost my mind. During the morning session of conference, I took Apollo out to walk around a farm in the cold and then came home to feed everybody lunch while Kira and Avey left to practice a special musical number and eat at a branch member's house. While they were gone, I loaded the boys into the car to get them to a park before we lost the moderate weather and sunshine.

When we arrived, the first thing that caught their collective eye was an enormous pile of mulch sitting in the parking lot. That was the first thing they explored.

They had a lot of fun on that while I walked Apollo around to sniff for garbage he could eat, and then they moved on to play on the playground equipment. It was very muddy in the grassy areas, but the kids had a good time as there were plenty of other kids their ages who showed up. Merritt even recognized a kid from his school in one of the other Kindergarten classes, so they became instant buddies and played tag with a couple of other kids their age.

We eventually came back home to have dinner, and then Kira got the boys to organize their outfits for the week before we had a brief family night.

Kira let me sleep in on Monday, but I got up to see the kids off. I did the standard morning of grading and then a quick grocery run before Kira left for work. I then made some gluten free brownies for Carver.

As I explained last week, we had received a notice from the IRS that we hadn't lived in the U.S. for at least 6 months last year, which was a big surprise to all of us as we remember last year pretty well. The letter said that I needed to call them, so I spent a big chunk of the day calling that number and not getting through. Well, finally in the afternoon, I got put on hold for an hour and then actually spoke to someone. I explained the situation, and she put me on hold again to "research my file." She then came back on and said she was still researching it, and put me back on hold for about 3 minutes and then hung up on me. It's a good thing the kids were nearby at that time, or I might have let some very inappropriate words escape my mouth.

I tried again several times and eventually got back on hold and waited an hour and a half before speaking with a very unhelpful woman who did not understand the situation, and just kept trying to gaslight me that I had entered the wrong amount on the form. I explained to her how I had calculated the amount, to which she had no reply except to say, "Well, you know, I'm not a tax person." I was under the impression that she worked for the IRS, so that was pretty weird that I knew more about taxes than she, but there's the government for you... In the end, she said that she would tell her supervisor to call me to better explain things to me. I should not have fallen for that, because of course I'll never get that phone call.

Luckily, Kira made it home from work while I was dealing with that phone call, so she got the boys to bed and then we tried to relax a bit before bed. I did not sleep well at all, mostly because I was fuming about the complete waste of time and effort from the IRS call.

I was exhausted Tuesday morning, but had to be up for the train. It was a very foggy day, which matched my mood nicely.

Naturally, when I got in the truck to head to the station, the check-engine light was back on, again for a very small leak in the evap system. I decided to just buy the more expensive fuel tank filler neck as it seems my seal keeps breaking.

It was a painful day for me in the city, but I made it through my courses pretty well. To add insult to injury, I finally got to relax a bit on the train ride home, and so I was excited to finish a show I had started. I got to the end of the series, and it left on a cliffhanger, so I was very confused. I looked it up and found out that it was supposed to keep going after the first season, but then got canceled, so I would never get any resolution. Thanks a lot, Netflix.

When I made it home, Kira had the kids fed, and then I helped them with finishing their homework. Jesse and Carver were really good buddies throughout the afternoon. One thing they did was challenge each other with our jump ropes, trying to do new tricks or go faster than the other.

Jesse has been so thrilled to have figured out how to crossover the jump rope successfully, as he was really impressed when his gym teacher did it, and figured he could never figure it out himself.

Hannah came over early that night and said goodnight to the boys before joining us for some TV. She had a rough day when her bus route was blocked by a large vehicle that had become stuck in the mud. She had to change her route, and meet some of the parents at a different place than usual to pick up their kids, and of course some of the parents wanted to blame her for the other vehicle getting stuck.

By bedtime, my neck was pretty stiff, but I figured it was probably just part of my exhaustion. I awoke feeling worse, though, with the neck pain causing a pretty bad headache most of the day. It seemed like whatever Hannah had jumped into my neck... We got the kids off to school. I tried calling the IRS again throughout the day with no luck even getting into the queue to be on hold. I had my blood drawn to check my cholesterol again, but I still haven't heard the results. I'm guessing it's because they've never seen such healthy blood in their life (#sarcasm). I worked at home, had a stupid faculty meeting, and then ran to get some oil for the mower as the front lawn is already needing to be cut.

Once the boys were home, we did a homework and shower rush to have them ready to go to an art exhibit that evening where Jesse's schoolwork was on display. It was at a local art gallery, where the art teacher was given 25 spaces to fill, and out of the entire school of about 350 students, Jesse's art was selected to be displayed:

That was a nice ego boost for him (as if he needed one...), and it was cool to see the other art and recognize some of the names from other kids we know. Hannah joined us, too, and then left for youth activity, but Avey opted to stay home. We went for ice cream after the art show, and then came home for bed, but the boys just couldn't bear the thought of holding still, so they all went outside to bounce on the trampoline. I was very tired and my neck was killing me, so I stayed on Tylenol and looked forward to sleep.

Thursday was another rough day with my neck and energy. I left for the city and Kira got the kids off to school. I called the IRS several times throughout the day. Twice, they put me on a callback list, meaning that I could keep my place in line and they would call me when it was my turn, instead of waiting on hold. Of course, they never did call back. Fool me once...

I joined a webinar in the afternoon about male victims of domestic violence. It was really interesting, even with my very tired brain. Kira took the older two kids to dentist appointments, and they each had clean bills of health. We are always a little surprised when the dentists compliment our kids on their dental hygiene.

Once I was home, we piled up in the car and went to the elementary school to see the boys' projects they had done: Merritt's 3D model using different shapes, Jesse's model of a building, and Carver's science project display. Hannah joined us, too. It was nice to have those projects get some recognition - Carver got a perfect score for his!

Merritt's Art On Display at the School

I was so very incredibly tired that night, that I finally slept deeply without any medicine, and my neck felt much better the next morning. Once the kids were at school, I called the IRS every 10 to 20 minutes the entire day, and never once made it so far as the hold queue. This is taking far too much of my time, so I decided that I would also write a letter to them explaining the situation to at least feel like something is in the works. I sent that certified mail in the afternoon, but I doubt if anything will happen for several weeks. I will keep calling, and I've even tried making an appointment at the local IRS office, but it's the same thing - I can't even get through to wait on hold. It's like something out of a horror movie.

Anyway, Kira and I also took the van in to get the catalytic converter replaced. My new fuel tank filler neck arrived, but long story short, after replacing it, I'm not sure that was the problem this time, so now I'm worried I acted too rashly. My seal on the old one sure seems like it was holding just fine. I guess we'll see...

Kira left in the morning to take the younger boys to their dental appointments. Merritt was proud of how brave he was with the vibrating toothbrush, and neither boy had cavities, so that was good. Kira dropped them off at school for a little longer before they got on the bus to come home. In the afternoon, I ran to the grocery store, picked up a movie for the night, and then took Avey to a school dance. She wasn't sure she wanted to go, but then figured she'd go meet some friends for the last hour, so then Hannah picked her up when it was over on her way to our house. It sounded like she had a pretty good time.

Today is still cool weather (we awoke to light snow on the ground), but we hope to get the kids out of the house at some point. I'm playing racquetball with Hannah this afternoon, so let's see if I can mess up my neck again.

Let's hope this next week is full of some progress on the stupid IRS nightmare, no more check-engine lights, and no more aches and pains...

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