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  • Elijah Ricks

Merritt 5.0

It was a week like no other here in Chesterton...


Sunday afternoon, I heated up some carnitas for a late lunch. Hannah suggested rice with it, and also donated some peppers that I sautéed to go with them. We put them in tortillas or ate them with chips, really hitting the spot, as it were. Hannah left after that to squeeze in a nap and maybe some birding later. It was chilly, so I started a fire in the fire pit and then started breaking off dead branches from one of our trees in the backyard. I ended up taking down a lot of them, keeping the fire going for a while. The tree looks a lot better now, I think. Its bright red and pink blossoms sure help, too. Kira and the boys chatted with our neighbor while I worked on the branches, and then we did a brief family night lesson and activity. I took down the big cardboard fort with the boys' permission, and took it all to recycling later that evening.

Very Relaxed Apollo

Monday was a standard morning, but it was windy all day, despite the warmth. I had a lot of grading to do, and then I took over Merritt when Kira had to leave for her morning client. I supervised Merritt while removing all of the irises from the tree ring in the front yard. I wasn't sure what to do, because I like the irises, but I don't want to have to separate them every few years, so I just took them out. When Kira was back, I went to go get Carver from robotics club. He was excited because they had finished their robot! They were the first group to do it, so it looks like they'll spend the next few meetings working out some kinks and playing with it. The roof guys called back and made an appointment for Tuesday. Hakan and I then walked Apollo around the neighborhood while Avey stuck with Merritt on their bikes. After the bedtime routine, Hannah came by with an Oreo cheesecake sort of dessert, which was great, and we watched TV while Kira finished up with her evening clients. She met with her new one and is excited to work with them. She got another new client signed up later in the week, too.


Tuesday was hectic because right after getting the kids off to school, there's a brief window to finish feeding Merritt before his virtual preschool, and then library class is right after that. I worked on more grading while that was going on, and then the roof guys came in the afternoon. First a couple of very young guys came and gave us their best guess about the cause of our ceiling collapse. It didn't make much sense to me, and so when I pointed out the drywall was installed with glue and nails, they seemed to think it was more about that, but they still left without really giving us anything useful. One of them gave me the number of his friend who does drywall, at least. The insurance guy came just a few minutes after that, and he looked at it for a few minutes and figured it had to do with the ice dams we had this winter. I figured that was that, and we should start getting the drywall fixed. I called that number the roof guy gave me, but the dude never called me back...


Kira had a dental appointment that afternoon, but she came right home after it turned out that there was nothing the dentist had to do - he just made some recommendations. I was cutting the grass when she got home, and the boys were home from school. With her home, I sped off for a quick run for supplies at the hardware store, and then took Apollo to a play date. Hakan was bored out of his mind, so I had him help me assemble a kid-sized picnic table I'd just bought. They have a plastic one that comes apart too easily, and so it's very frustrating, which is why I bought the wooden one. Anyway, then came the dinner and bed routine. Hannah stayed at home after a long day, but it also probably had something to do with the fact that she got her new TV, so doesn't need us anymore.


Wednesday, despite the day of remote learning, I got up a bit early to shower and eat before a dental appointment. It took a long time - mostly me just lying there numb, waiting for the dentist to come back and finish the job. I came home quite numb and with a bit of a lisp. I was nervous for how I would look for my afternoon appointment interviewing a job candidate. It went fine, though. Hakan simply could not be bothered about his schoolwork. He instead puttered around, distracting himself with anything else, even after Kira gave him a sweet incentive to get going. I sat in on a remote meeting while I fed the kids lunch, as Avey and Kira were off to a chiropractor appointment. I finally ate a very late lunch once I could feel my cheeks again. My jaw was pretty sore, so it hurt to chew, but I was so hungry!


It rained all afternoon, matching the general mood in the home. Carver had earned time to watch a movie after finishing his schoolwork, and he wanted to watch the first Harry Potter movie. I went to get it at the library and drop off my collection of bolts at Hannah's so that she could see if they would work to mount her TV to its stand (no luck). Carver watched the movie in Avey's room, and then Hakan finally found the motivation to complete his schoolwork, so then joined Carver. I took Avey to pick up her friend and then drop them both off at Hannah's to go to the youth activity that night. They were watching half of a movie, so Avey took her schoolwork to complete, as she'd recently seen the movie. She took a ton of snacks to share, too.


They joined Kira and me at home. We were just a few minutes into an episode on TV. We couldn't get the video monitor to keep charging - its plug has been out of sorts for a very long time. I thought I'd see what parts I had lying around, and I found the right size plug, so I cut off the old one, attached the wires to the new one, and voila, the plug is working like new. It's not pretty, but it's functional, at least.


Thursday was my last day in the city for this semester. It was a little easier, too. My morning class had completed their review on Tuesday, so I just treated it as my office hours, and only one student came. My afternoon class was another review, and we took up a lot of the time. It was interesting, because most of their questions drifted off into my experiences working in prison, and large causes of criminality, and so on. My evening class was a final discussion about the book they had read all semester, and a few of them shared about their research projects they had recently completed. That was nice, and then when I asked for any last questions, a student chimed in and said how much she had enjoyed the class and how she tells her parents about it every week because it's so great. That was a nice compliment, and a nice end to the semester.


On the way to the city, I called a drywall place who basically told me that they wouldn't come and fix the drywall because "they haven't solved the cause." I told him that the roof people didn't even know what the cause was, and I thought it was poorly installed in the first place, but this guy seemed to think he knew better. Anyway, he was not very helpful. I called another place, and they said they would come and check it out that night. Kira dealt with all of the normal stuff with kids, and the guy came by and he seems to think that part of the problem is that the previous owner put a layer of shingles over the old layer, and used nails that are too short. That may have led to some water seepage through the new nail holes. I met with him the next day, and he made his case. So I suggested he make the case to our insurance company, and he seemed very hesitant, as if that would somehow make it worse or something. In any case, he's agreed to talk to them, and so now we wait to see if we get the whole roof replaced or what.


Thursday was also a special day for the boys, as they got to dress up as a book character. Hakan dressed as Captain Underpants.

Carver dressed as Drake, from Dragon Masters.

I was wiped out Friday, as usual, and so after attending a meeting in the morning, I did some grading and then got going on my outside projects. Kira went to lunch with a friend in the branch, taking Merritt along. I worked on the tree rings in the backyard. Kira dropped Merritt off, and then went to visit a bedridden sister in the branch. I finished one of the tree rings and got very close on the other one before Kira got home. I made a quick dash to the grocery store, where I locked myself out of the car. I had started to pull the key out, but then grabbed something else, and left the key halfway in, so that when I opened the door and locked it, it didn't give me the warning beeps. I saw what I had done immediately, and felt like a total moron. Anyway, Hannah rescued me after going to pick up keys at my house. I made it home to help with dinner and that's when the roof guy came to make his case to me. Avey helped me wrap Merritt's presents while we all watched TV that night.


Saturday was Merritt's 5th birthday! When I came downstairs and wished him a happy birthday, he told me that his pajamas still fit him, so they must also fit 5-year-olds! He doesn't get how it works, I suppose. Anyway, I baked his cake and then got breakfast going. I then left to help Hannah put her TV on its mount, after she had found some correct bolts. That didn't take long, and then she and I went to the hardware store to get capstones for my new tree rings, and some flowers to put in the front yard tree ring. We took a quick trip to Walmart for a few items before going back home. Kira made Merritt pancakes for his lunch, and Avey made some for Carver. Kira also frosted the cake, and then the boys all waited with bated breath for a couple of friends to come over while I cut the grass. Carver's best friend and his little brother came over to play with the boys. We did presents first, but I had to leave to get Apollo to his play date. I got gas for the mower while I was out, and then I thought I would drop off the tape measure that the roof guy left in our garage. It turned out that there was a closed road on my route, which led me on a 30 minute detour. I missed all the rest of the presents and most of the cake by the time I got home... Kira and I then played with all of the boys in the backyard before the friends had to leave.

Merritt had a good day, and was very excited about all of his presents. Thanks to everyone who contributed something!

Kira took our youngest two and two of the neighbors, Hakan's friends, to the park. I stayed home with Carver and worked on finishing up the tree ring in the front yard by planting some petunias and filling in the rest with mulch. Avey rode her bike, out for a couple of hours.

A little after 5, I was doing dishes and heard a loud pop and saw a flash of light on the wall. Carver said that the power went out, and so I looked to see where it must have come from. It had been very windy all day, so I figured a tree branch had fallen. I saw in our neighbor's backyard that a whole tree looked like it had fallen over into the power line. I reported the outage and tried to call them to tell them the cause, but while I was on the line, they called me. I was apparently the first one to report it. I told them where it was and that a tree had fallen into the power line. For the next 2 hours, I got updates over text about how they didn't yet know what the cause was. I kept watching for someone to come out, but they didn't get there until around 7. The guy got out of this truck, then looked at the tree and then called the tree guys. You would think they would have called the tree guys as soon as I had told them it was a tree, but that would make far too much sense.


Anyway, we had a candle lit in the boys' room so that they wouldn't be too scared, but Merritt still insisted somebody be there with them so they could fall asleep. I stayed in there, and watched the tree guys finally come and start working. It was a pretty interesting thing to watch, and apparently quite dangerous. Hannah, who still had power up in her ivory tower, stayed home. I showered by candlelight and then we started a show, watching on Avey's phone. The power came on about 15 minutes later, so we switched to the TV for a few more minutes and then went to bed after making sure the boys' night lights were all on, and their clocks were set so they would know when they were allowed to get up.

Carver with the Neighbors' Dog

Today is gloriously sunny and warm, and the wind is less severe than yesterday, so maybe we'll have power all day. I finished the tree rings in the backyard this morning, and I'm very pleased with them.

We may try to have a water party in the backyard to try out some of Merritt's new spraying toys.


This next week is finals, so I'll be up to my eyeballs in grading. Maybe with some luck we'll get our ceiling fixed, too.

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