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  • Writer's pictureElijah Ricks

Spring Brick

Updated: Apr 19, 2021

With Kira finally home last week, we (mostly I) looked forward to a slightly easier week this time around. Sunday was not much out of the ordinary, though, as Kira was committed to meetings most of the day, and had to get caught up from all that she missed the week before. Hakan played with the neighbor kids a lot in the afternoon in our backyard, and I started to slowly piece together the tube slide so that I could finally finish the play set. We also added more mulch.

I cooked chicken with tortellini for a late lunch. Hannah joined us for that, and then went home to continue to recover from her cold symptoms. We had a typical afternoon and evening, and then called it an early night, as we were all so very tired from the preceding week.

I had a very rough night as my nose was much more stuffed up, so I started off my spring break on a sour note. Avey was also still feeling pretty bad, so she stayed home from school. I then spent the morning getting all caught up on grading. Kira, who was also still very tired, despite not having any cold symptoms, got ready to see her morning client, and then left to do that. I fed Merritt lunch and then, having finished my grading, got working on my spring break projects. I started by finishing the tube slide for the playset. It was ridiculous, and my poor fingers and hands were raw and sore after it was all said and done. But yes, at least the building part is done.

The weather was just in the right range to apply our address decals to the new mailbox, so I did that, too.

All of the neighbor kids with whom Hakan regularly plays came over that afternoon to play in our yard, which is probably his very favorite thing in the world. I have to admit, it's an enormous source of pride to me that he's the kind of kid with whom everyone wants to play, and I'll admit that I like having the kind of yard in which all the neighbor kids want to play.

I know I should just be done with the playset, but now I've got ideas going about adding some cabinets on the inside, and maybe a small play kitchen area or something. All in good time, of course...

Tuesday, Avey was feeling better enough to go to school. Kira did library class with Merritt, and I was outside working on projects most of the day. I put in stakes on the playset for added stability, and in the afternoon I made a trip to the store for some essentials and picked up Avey from track. She was feeling like maybe it was time to be done with track, given that her ankle was still not better, and she felt behind on her progress. She also didn't enjoy it exactly, so we all talked about it later and she decided that she was going to quit the next day.

You may recall from last week that there was a mysterious shadowy figure lurking somewhere in our house, but no one had gotten a good look at it. Well, on Tuesday night, as we were watching some TV in the evening, Apollo perked up and dashed over toward the wall, where we saw a mouse trying to sneak past some furniture. He didn't catch it, but he certainly drew our attention to it. We chased it until it escaped under the oven. So we set our trap in the furnace closet where I had seen the shadowy figure dash a few nights before, and where Apollo couldn't mess with it. We then waited in vain for a few nights...

I finally slept that night, so felt close to human on Wednesday. It was remote learning day for the kids, so Kira and I both slept in a bit. After breakfast, I took apart the old plastic playset that we had inherited years ago from some friends in Illinois. Our boys have outgrown it, and it's just in the way now, so I put it out in the front yard for the trash to get in a couple of days. Someone came by and picked it up that night, so I wish them well with it.

Avey and Kira had appointments with the chiropractor that morning, hoping that he would have some solution for Avey's ankle. When they got back, I took the car to do our monthly Costco run. Hannah had a root canal scheduled for the afternoon, after waiting for about a month to get in. So she chose to do that instead of hauling groceries around with me. I stopped by the hardware store on my way to Costco to get some bricks and supplies to make a brick floor for the playset's inside section. I got home and we all unloaded the bricks and groceries, and then Kira took Avey to track so that she could tell the coach in person that she was done. It went well, and now Avey's glad to have her afternoons back. Apollo is also very happy to have Avey more available for walks in the afternoons.

I worked on laying the brick floor in the playset, wishing that I had thought to do that before putting the playset together and on top of it. I had put a brick frame under the playset frame, but then filling the bricks in was a challenge because I couldn't form a nice pattern without cutting a bunch of bricks. Anyway, next time I build a playset, I'll know what to do. Kira was kind enough to do dinner without me so that I could finish up my project.

Hannah picked up Avey to go to a youth planning activity that night. She then joined us for TV, full of pain meds for her tooth. She was excited to start feeling better soon. She still had quite the cough from her cold, and it seems to be lingering for her worse than for the rest of us.

Merritt Shows Hannah Thousands of His Selfies

We didn't catch the mouse that night either, but we did see it briefly before it escaped into the furnace closet.

I cut the grass again on Thursday. It's a mixed blessing of Indiana that our grass grows very well - it's a beautiful green, and I don't have to water ever, but I have to cut it about every 4 days. I also swept sand between all of my bricks on the playset to help keep them stable. I had big plans to also gut out our flower beds in the backyard that are basically just weed gardens with some flowers, but it was so cold that I decided I wasn't up for it. Instead, I moved all of the rest of the mulch from our driveway to the back patio so that I could have my driveway back.

In the afternoon, Kira took Merritt to a park. Carver wasn't interested, and Hakan was occupied with the neighbor kids. I tore down the curtain rod in our bedroom so that I could put up a new one I had ordered. The old one was there when we moved in. It goes across nearly the entire wall, and it's probably 30 years old. It looks terrible, and it is not functional, because the curtain rings get stuck and so we have to physically force them open and closed every morning and night. It was therapeutic to take it down, spit on it, and curse it to oblivion. I put up the new one, but could tell that I'd not been careful enough in my measurements - it was going to be too high for our curtains to close just under the light panel that goes across our room. It would be an easy fix, but not until the next day. I ironed our new curtains (that would actually match our color scheme) while we watched TV that night. No sign of the mouse, but Hannah brought over her larger mouse trap that she uses, and I put it in our pantry even though we'd seen no signs of mice in there.

Friday, Kira was determined to make my spring break actually somewhat relaxing instead of just a bunch of projects that were likely to throw my back out. She let me sleep through the breakfast routine, and then I got up in time to say bye to the boys before the bus came. I fixed the curtain rod and put up the second one for our other window, very satisfied with the results. Now we just need a bedspread that matches the rest of the room!

I finally took a break, and went to bowl a couple of games, although I didn't do very well. Still, it was nice to get to do something different. I then went to the hardware store to get more retaining wall bricks and some capstones. I have been so thrilled with my tree ring in the front yard that I'd like to do two more in the backyard, and I wanted to try adding the capstones to the tree ring in the front. I just unloaded it all for that day, and cleaned up the garage from all of the mess and disorganization after the playset had taken up all of my attention. I also set up a hummingbird feeder in the backyard.

That night, Hannah came over and thought she'd move her larger trap to the furnace area. She had found that the mice in her attic were too big to fit in my smaller trap, so she did that and within about an hour or so, we heard it close! Sure enough, we'd caught the mouse. We put him in an old aquarium to give him a good look and a meal before sending him on his way. He started jumping at the lid, so Avey and I drove him to a forest area far away from homes and dropped him off. He never did thank us for sparing his life. We set the trap again, just in case.

Saturday, the boys woke me up early with their excitement downstairs, and so I just stayed up and fed them breakfast. I went out to get some repair stuff for my tubeless tire on my new tractor trailer, because it still had a slow leak to it. I then picked up Hannah, who had spotted a TV stand at our favorite used furniture place, and wanted help getting it to her apartment (even though she doesn't have a TV yet). We did that, and then I checked the mouse trap again to find a very little mouse in there! We let him try the aquarium for a little, and the boys got a big kick out of watching it explore.

That one was very thirsty, and drank plenty of water before Hakan, Avey, and I took it to that forest area where we'd dropped the other one.

We set the trap one more time, just in case.

We spent the rest of the morning doing a family project getting those backyard flower beds presentable again. Avey, Hakan, and I dug up the weeds and the flowers, trying to preserve the flowers to plant again, and then I laid down the weed barrier. Kira and Merritt worked together to plant the flowers again through the barrier, and I worked on the opposite end on the same thing. Then, I added the mulch around the flowers. It looks worlds better than it did, and we're so glad to have that done finally.

As I finished the second flower bed, Kira picked up some takeout for lunch. I then went back out to try and fix my leaky tire. I'll check the results later today. I adjusted a swing in the front yard whose chain had been digging too much into the tree branch. Avey did the first line trimming of the year, making the yard look presentable again. I made a quick dash to the store for our meal plans for today, and Avey took Apollo on a walk before we did our bedtime routine.

During the night, Avey was up working on some projects in the kitchen, and then she heard the mouse trap close again! She woke me up, and I figured I should just take the mouse then, as we didn't want to keep it housed during the night, and I wouldn't have a car to take it anywhere. That's 3 mice, and we really hope that's it!

I cut the capstones for my tree ring this morning and got them all nice and fitted. Otherwise, we're hoping to have a low key day.

Hakan got a flyer from school for a bookmark contest, where students design a bookmark, and then if their design wins, it will be printed out for the whole school. He was very excited about his idea, and is sure it will win:

It's a drawing of a book, and then the label "Book mark" just in case it's not clear what it's for. We're trying to keep his expectations realistic, but we sure love his design.

This week is back to real life for me, but I'm likely to keep finding projects to do in between my day job. At least there are only a few weeks left of the semester!

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