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  • Elijah Ricks

New Depths

Updated: Jun 20

We filled up this week with lots of swimming and water activities, a new rat, and a trip to Michigan.


Last Saturday we all got a chance to meet our neighbor's new puppy. She had been thinking about getting a third dog, and then when her oldest dog had to be put down, that clinched it and she got a new little guy to help her fill the void and ease the pain. The kids sure enjoyed meeting him, but Carver didn't want to leave the other dog she had feeling neglected, so he said hello to the puppy and then went to play with the dog we already knew.


In the afternoon, the kids settled in for a library movie so that I could get a break and Kira could finish up preparing for a lesson for primary the next day. We had a standard night of showers and bedtime before we night owls started our movie, but Merritt came down very late after a bad dream, and he was so disoriented that he walked right through the room hardly noticing us before Kira guided him to the restroom and then back to bed.


Kira had a meeting Sunday morning, so I drove the kids to church after I got them ready. I then made lunch for when they got home. In the afternoon, I played a game of chess with Merritt and then Jesse, who are still both learning the ropes. It's a very complicated game, of course, and so I try not to fault them for playing only one piece at a time, and thinking ahead only 1 turn each time. I try to point out the possible consequences of each move, but then I worry that I'm overloading them with information so that it's no longer fun. I'll keep working on striking that balance.


We then went to a park in the later afternoon, and Jesse wanted to bring along his driving car. He helped me load it into the back of the truck and then we got it to the park. I think in his mind he was prepared for all of the kids at the park to crowd around and admire him and beg for rides, so he was a little disappointed when the kids didn't seem to notice him much. He was very glad to get a couple of kids interested in taking a ride around, though, and made one three-year-old's day who was coveting the car from a distance. His face lit up nicely when Jesse drove him around the park. Merritt met some kids his age and played hide-and-seek, and Hannah walked Apollo around.


I took Avey to school Monday morning, but she was running late, so I fed the boys before we left. I then didn't have much time to exercise, and so I went to the YMCA for about half of the usual time before heading home to take over. Kira got ready and left for work. I had sort of planned to go to Costco once Avey was home, but I hadn't been paid yet, so I delayed it until the next day. It was intensely hot that day, and so I set up our slip-n-slide deal in the backyard again, delighting the younger two. Carver still refused to enjoy himself, explaining that he does not like getting sprayed in the face.


Kira brought Avey home in between her clients, and then the kids all said they were up for a library trip, so I took them there. Avey decided that she was ready to get her rats that day, and so when we were done at the library, we picked up Hannah and went to the pet store. We had a good time brainstorming names for rats on the way there. About 60 seconds after we walked in, an employee handed Avey the biggest rat I'd ever seen and then he and another worker started to talk up how great a rat he is.

I kept Merritt occupied while she held the rat, and in the end, she decided that he was the winner. We brought him home and were a little nervous how he would fit in with the other two. He's about three times the size of the other guys, and so I wondered if he would terrorize them, but he's also pretty old for a rat (they estimated he is 4 years old), and so I also wondered if the other two would bully him. Luckily, they have all gotten along very well. Avey named him Templeton, because she used to love the cartoon version of Charlotte's Web when she was little, and especially loved the song that Templeton the rat sang, as you can see here:

It was a strange evening because we were under a tornado warning for a while that night. Kira came home from work to an eerie yellow sky, lots of lightning, and some wind.

Merritt got himself pretty worked up about a tornado coming, although we did our best to reassure him that we would be safe. The boys stayed up a little longer until it was clear that the danger had passed, and then they could relax enough to sleep. Hannah opted to stay home.


Kira took Avey to school on Tuesday, and so I slept in a little and then got up to feed the boys. I was paid, so Hannah came over and we went to Costco to stock up for the month. Kira took the boys to swimming lessons and then dropped them off to go and give Avey a ride to the location to which they were all supposed to walk, but with her broken toe, Avey did not want to limp along the whole way. It worked out perfectly so that Kira was back in time for the boys' lessons to be over. Hannah and I unloaded our car full of groceries before they were all back home.


It was so hot that nobody wanted to go outside. After lunch, I got going on a project to reset the downstairs toilet that was loose. That was messy, but not too difficult. Then, just as I was finishing the job, the power went out. I was really surprised that it went out then rather than during the tornado warning, but wondered if it had to do with the heat wave and everyone suddenly blasting their ACs, overloading the system or something. I was able to finish my job, and talked the boys into going outside to try out the new extra-long slip-n-slide I had got at the hardware store (just a drop cloth). It's about 24 feet long, and I finally figured out to fill plastic cartons with water to weigh it down instead of bricks.


I was able to convince Carver to just try it out at least, and so he got on board and had a great time with his brothers.

It was still somehow not quite long enough, and so I also added on the other 12 feet-or-so of plastic sheeting I had been using before, and then it was finally long enough. It was good to see them enjoying themselves, although I don't look forward to seeing my water bill at the end of this month!


Avey cleaned out the rat cage. That's one thing we hadn't quite anticipated - the rats do not smell good, and need the cage cleaned out much more frequently than did the little hamster we had. We're working on some methods to reduce the labor.


Fortunately, the power was back on after just about two hours, so we could get back to normal life before bedtime.


I took Avey to school on Wednesday, and then thought I'd walk Apollo around the high school that morning before it got too hot. The poor guy had not been anywhere for a couple of days between Avey's broken toe and the terrible heat. He had a good time while it lasted, and then spent the rest of the day acting like he'd never been outside at all. I came home to finish breakfast for the kids, although Jesse was a big help getting Merritt most of his meal.


Kira took the younger two for yearly checkups and shots at the doctor, then picked up Avey on the way home. Merritt was very sad about the shot, but he survived, thanks in part to Jesse's brave example. Kira promised them swimming after they got their shots, but they wanted to show off their new skills to me, and so I took them to the pool. It was very crowded with summer camp kids when we got there, but they still had a good time. Merritt's latest is that he can put his head under the water for about a second. He is really proud of his progress. Jesse passed a swim test to go into the deep end, and so he likes to dive in from the side.


We were just getting out to head to the car when Kira dropped off Avey. She thought she might just hop in and feel the water really quickly, but she didn't even get to do that because the pool had closed. Her toe feels much better, thankfully, and so maybe she'll try to just wade around soon.


When we arrived home, the delivery guy was just dropping off a new trampoline for the backyard. Ours has become a death trap over the last few months - a leg piece broke in two a while ago, but then in the last couple of weeks two different legs had just snapped off of the frame. I duct taped them back on just to keep it very loosely together, but with each bounce it was clear that it was only a matter of time before the entire thing crumbled like a house of cards. I ordered the new one as soon as I could.


Jesse was a big help putting the new one together, and his brothers came out a little later to lend a hand. We had it up in no time.

Not 5 minutes after we had it up and running did the boys request to put the old one right next to the new one for double trampoline awesomeness. I said we could do it for one day, but then I would have to dismantle the old one before the police came to arrest me for allowing it to exist.

They enjoyed themselves, but had to take several breaks due to the heat. With the boys' help, I dismantled the old trampoline the next day.

After all of that, Avey and I went to get just a couple of groceries, and as we pulled out of the driveway we saw a power line that had been cut in half by a neighbor's tree. The power line was lying in the road, but our power was still on. We weren't sure if anyone had called it in, so decided that we would if no one was there by the time we got home. Our neighbor was outside directing cars away from it when we did get back, and then a police car was blocking the road a little after that, right in front of our driveway. They had it repaired not too long after that.


Thursday Kira took Avey to school and I did breakfast. The boys were invited to swim in our neighbor's pool, and so Kira took them over while I made treats and had lunch. They came home with stories of their new skills - Merritt is now comfortable jumping into the pool without holding a parent's hand.

He was so excited at his progress, and couldn't wait to show me the next time we went swimming.


I left to pick up Avey and took her to a used furniture place to see if we could find her a new dresser, but no luck. We went home so that Avey could unwind a bit and eat, and then Kira took her to the doctor for her annual checkup. I cut the boys' hair. Merritt wanted a Mohawk again, and Jesse said he did, also, but after I buzzed down the first side, he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and thought he looked amazing, so I just buzzed the side. He's really happy with it, so I guess that's what matters.


Once the girls were home from the doctor, the power went out again! It was out for another couple of hours, so not too bad, but let's hope that we're done with our outages for the year. Just before bedtime, Avey took Jesse and Apollo on a short walk. Kira was on the phone that night, and so Hannah and I had the TV.


It finally had cooled down on Friday, and Avey had no school. I got up a little early to play racquetball with Hannah and then fed the boys at home before showering and working. Kira took Avey to get blood drawn once she was up. The boys were excited to show me their swimming skills, and so I took them for free swim. We were the only ones there, so the pool was all ours. Merritt jumped in without help several times, and then later he even held his breath to go under the ropes separating the lanes in the pool. He was very scared for the first one, and took a few tries, but by the fourth, he was doing it like a pro! At this rate, he'll be doing back flips off of the diving board by the end of the summer.


When we were home, I got working on lubricating the suspension on the truck, because it creaks a lot whenever I drive it. I think I may have figured out where it's coming from.


I ran some errands, and then we all went to sing Happy Birthday to the neighbors before taking Carver to a friend's for a sleepover. It was then dinner for the other kids, and then Kira and Avey left to see the musical Newsies that was put on by the group Avey had joined for Sister Act last year. Hannah came over while they were gone to change her oil in the garage, and then we watched some TV. Kira and Avey brought home some cheesecake for us to nibble at before we went to bed.


Saturday we planned to go on a day trip to visit my great uncle and his wife in Michigan. They had come to see us a few years ago when we lived in Illinois, and we'd tried to get together at Thanksgiving, but COVID messed that up. So we finally got it together and went to see them. It was just a couple of hours driving, and we had a very nice visit. The weather was fantastic, so the kids had a good time playing hide-and-seek and exploring their house. Apollo seemed excited to play with their dog, but she was so very old that she was not much of a playmate. He eventually gave up. They treated us all to lunch at a fancy restaurant, and then we had a little early birthday party for Kira. After a little more chatting, we headed back home so that we could get the kids to bed at a decent time. Of course, once we were home, we realized that we'd left an extra car seat, Avey's jacket, and Kira's pill box behind. I suppose that will give us a nice reason to visit again soon!

We had a busy evening getting boys ready for bed, and we realized we needed to go out for a couple of groceries, but then we relaxed a bit and called it a night.


Kira let me sleep in today for Father's Day, and she's planning on making the meal tonight so that I get a break from cooking!


I hope you all take some time to honor and appreciate the fathers and father figures in your lives! We'll see you next week!


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