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  • Elijah Ricks

Shock and Awe

Updated: Nov 9

Last Sunday was Halloween, and so I got all set up to carve all 3,042 pumpkins we had acquired over the previous week. I fed the kids lunch once they were home, and then we got going on the carving.


We caught wind of our neighbors two doors down holding a pumpkin painting party in their garage, and so our boys trickled over there. Merritt took his second pumpkin to paint, leaving me to carve his first one.

Hannah joined us for dinner, and then we prepared the kids to go trick-or-treat during the designated hours. Hakan was tired, and just wasn't interested in going out with the others. Hannah got decked out in her Mabel (from Gravity Falls) costume, and took Apollo out on a walk (he had a turtle shell on his back). Hakan stuck with me and had a great time waiting on the porch for "customers." He didn't even put on his costume, but he wore a thick coat and just his socks on his feet. I suggested several times that he might be more comfortable with shoes, but he did not share my vision.

After a while, Kira came back by to regroup with the kids and unload their spoils thus far. By that time, Hakan had come around and decided to throw on his ninja costume and head out with them for the last of it. Hannah and I sat on the porch and chatted while managing the rest of the kids who came by. This was easily the most Halloween traffic we've ever had since moving to Indiana.

Avey as Heath Ledger's Joker

After they'd been through the neighborhood, the kids wrapped it up and began the process of sorting through their candy. Of course, Merritt hasn't touched any of his all week, because the selections are not what he normally eats, and anything different is bad.

On Monday, completely unrelated to the candy from the night before, everyone was ornery and tired. We got them to school so that they could be the state's problem for the day. Kira got going for work early, because she wanted to spend some time working through a game plan for a newer client. Of course, that same client then canceled their appointment at the last minute, so that was sort of a relief for her to have the extra time to work out the case conceptualization.

Merritt's Crafts

I did my normal work, and then broke for lunch and took Apollo to the park to explore. He mostly just tried to find garbage to eat. On the way home, I picked up Avey a sandwich that she could take to her long rehearsal after school. She had 4.5-hour rehearsals every day this week after school, and so she'd get home for about 45 minutes before going right back out. Monday I had a meeting, so she had to take the bus, giving her even less time at home. Anyway, the boys got home, but Carver had fallen asleep on the bus (again, totally unrelated to the Halloween candy), so it started to drive away after dropping off just the younger two. Luckily, Carver realized where he was and stopped the bus before it got far.

Carver's Crafts

I had 5 minutes to get to my meeting by the time they were home, so I greeted them quickly and begged them to keep their clothes on and avoid playing with matches while I was in my meeting. It was over in 30 minutes, and Avey was getting off the bus as I came downstairs. She took a few minutes trying to get on her stage makeup, and I got the boys in the car to drop her off. We came home to eat, and do bed. Kira picked Avey up from rehearsal on her way home from work.

Hakan's Craft

Tuesday was parent-teacher conferences, so it was an "eLearning" day for the kids. I was in the city, like usual. Kira was in the lion's den all day, trying to keep kids fed and also motivated to do their schoolwork. She got Avey to her afternoon rehearsal, and I made it home with just enough time to eat before our Zoom conferences with the boys' teachers. They all had good things to say about the kids. Carver's teacher is especially impressed with his very high test scores, and has good plans to keep things challenging for him. She said that he does well with helping his classmates, and he avoids troublemakers in the class. Hakan's teacher says that he is doing very well, and has some good goals for him. Merritt's teacher has seen some huge growth in his maturity since the beginning of the year.


The boys got their dinner late because of our conferences, but got to bed about normal time. Hakan randomly announced that he would like to now go by his first name, Jesse, from now on. He seemed pretty decided on it, so we've been trying to comply with that all week, with little success. He didn't really say why he'd decided on the change, and so we're not sure how long it will last, but we'll do our best.


I was tired, but apparently I felt like I needed to do some work with my hands, because I went into the garage to fiddle with the truck. A couple of weeks ago, the "check engine" light came on, and the code was the one that usually comes on when the gas cap is loose. I bought a new one, because it didn't feel like it was getting tight, but the light still came back on. The hoses all look good to me (a common reason for this code), but the fuel tank filler neck looked very rusty, so I had ordered a new one, thinking that maybe there was a pinhole leak in it.

So I replaced it that night, and it took maybe 20-30 minutes. The light hasn't come back on so far, so everybody keep your fingers crossed!


Kira and Avey left to run some errands, and Hannah came over for a while. We caught up and watched a little TV before the other ladies came home.


Avey missed the bus on Wednesday, and so Kira took her to school as I watched to be sure the boys made it on their bus. I was expecting plumbers in the morning, but of course, that was my mistake. They told me they'd be there at 8, and once again, I fell for it. I called them at 10:30 to see what the plan was, and the guy didn't have me on his schedule at all (glad I called). He said he could fit me in between 2 and 4. I'd believe it once I saw it.


I worked in the meantime, and had a faculty meeting just before lunch. I went to pick up Avey from school so that she could have some more time before rehearsal. Kira tried getting the boys to start their homework and bathe. Of course, 4:00 came and went, but the plumbers did come by at 5:30 - right in the middle of the dinner madness. They did their inspection and concluded that it's not a sewer smell we're getting, but a dead rodent somewhere between our floors or walls. They make a strong case - I had originally thought it must be a rodent, but my HVAC guy didn't find anything and he's very thorough. Of course, he looked only in the ductwork, so that would explain that. The smell also disappeared for months, and now it's in a slightly different location, so I'm guessing that we had a rodent or two die in different locations. At least, I sure hope that's it. I'm going to try to find where they could be getting in. I don't know why we don't hear them or see any sign of them in the kitchen - but the plumbers found droppings in between the floors, and I've seen signs of them in the crawlspace. My guess is that they get into the crawlspace somehow and then make their way up through the walls. Anyway, let's hope that's it...


Anyway, Hannah came over just after the boys were in bed, and just before I left to get Avey from rehearsal. Kira was on the phone with her friend for the night.

Thursday was standard stuff. Poor Avey is up before I am, even though she'd been home for what seemed like the blink of an eye. The rehearsals were eating up so much of her time. I had a typical day in the city, and Kira kept busy with all of her work and calling stuff.


Friday was the only day we had this week with almost nothing planned for a big chunk of time, so I made sure to have all of my grading out of the way, and did other stuff in a small birthday celebration. I spent about 3 hours of the morning replacing the rear shocks on the truck. The old ones were tricky to get off, and took just about all of my brain power. I won't bore you with the details, but I had to wedge a wrench in at just the right angle to provide some counterpressure as I loosened one, and I used an old piece of PVC pipe to lengthen my socket wrench to provide the torque I needed on the other one. Ugh. At least the new ones were easy to get on there.

Time to Retire, Guys

Don't worry, I did actually relax a little for lunch. Kira ordered some food and I picked it up while getting a show from the library. I've been re-watching the greatest series of all time, Better Call Saul, in preparation for the final season coming out next year. I watched an episode while I ate, and Kira took a phone call for a potential new client. I then left to pick up Avey so she could get ready for her first performance that night.


Once the boys were home from school, they got ready for a playdate that Kira had set up with Carver's best friend and that kid's younger brother (a good friend to Merritt). Kira mostly supervised, and I thought I could try being on-call while I got going on the front shocks. Again, I ran into big trouble getting the old ones off. I had to be pretty inventive to find a way to keep the shock from turning while I loosened the nut, but I found a system and got that puppy out of there. The new one went on like a champ. Kira took the younger two boys and the dog on a walk while the older kids (Carver, Hakan, and the older friend) played at home. When they got back, Kira started playing dodgeball with them in the backyard. I joined in until the friends had to leave. I got the kids their dinner and then ran out to remove the tire to replace the last shock. That one took no time at all compared to the others, now that I have my system worked out.


There was a book fair at the boys' school that day, and Merritt had plenty of money saved up, so he took $10 and bought a couple of new books. We read one of them before bed, and then once they were down, I cleaned up the garage from the shocks project, and relaxed in front of the TV. Hannah was out driving the bus for another special trip, so she didn't get home until late. Kira went to watch Avey's performance and then they grabbed some fast food on the way home.


Saturday was pretty full again, although we all got to sleep in a bit. I fed the boys breakfast and then removed the dash cowl on the truck to replace some burned out dash lights. I was able to replace them, but I had the wrong type for the lights behind the air control, so I went to 5 auto parts stores and nobody had them. I finally just found them online, and put the cowl back on for now.


While Kira tried to encourage kids to bathe, I took Avey to the church where her show is, because they were invited to see the show put on by the younger kids. It was a version of Trolls. While she did that, I dropped off a lot of winter gear that doesn't fit us anymore, or that we don't need (as it's superfluous), at the stake center to donate to refugees. I then made it back just when Avey was done at the show. I took her home to eat and get prepared before she had to go back for her two performances of Sister Act.


Kira had signed up to volunteer during the afternoon and evening, although there was not anything for her to do. I kept the boys entertained, and then got them all prepared to go to Avey's show in the afternoon. We dropped by the library on the way, and picked up Hannah. The show was really good - very high quality for the age group! Avey had a much bigger part than she had made it sound - she was in several scenes, and had a good number of lines. She was easily the best one up there - she had plenty of inflection in her voice, her facial expressions weren't canned, and she really stole the show in a musical number where she was dancing in the background. They were very strict about not letting us record anything, so I'm afraid we can't share the awesomeness.

Poor Merritt was all done after about an hour of the show. We had to keep him entertained while trying to watch the show, but he survived.


I then dropped off Hannah and brought the boys home for dinner and bedtime while Kira stayed to continue helping. Hannah came over once they were asleep. We changed the clocks just before bed, and Kira and Avey came home very late after hanging out at a restaurant on the way home.


It was nice to get the extra hour this morning, as we sure needed it. Maybe we should move the clock back every week...


Today is my stupid birthday, so we'll probably sit around and watch me lose more hair later today. I'm 40 now, which is so very bizarre to think about. We'll do presents and cake later today, as well as breakfast for lunch. It has been very nice to get some cards and gifts throughout the week. I spent most of my birthday cash on parts for the truck, which is a sure sign that I'm an old man.


I hope you all have a great week!

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