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  • Elijah Ricks

Stench

Updated: Oct 25

We managed to pack this week with all sorts of misery and excitement.


You may recall that last Sunday Merritt was nearly over his cold symptoms, but he started throwing up in the morning. He was finally able to keep food down while the others were at church, and so by the end of the day he felt about normal. He came along for the ride when I had to get Avey to a special Sunday rehearsal for Sister Act, and mostly had lots of fun riding in the truck. He was jumping on the trampoline by about midday, so that was a good sign. Later in the evening, he said to us, "If you get a lot of purple on your hand, then you have a 'Barney' hand." It was such a random thought that we cracked up for a while after that. He probably picked that up from some show he watched.

In the afternoon, I took Merritt on a bike ride and Hakan took the scooter. He went ahead of us and got home a few minutes before we did, and then by the time we came around the corner, he was walking his bike down the driveway. I hardly believed my eyes, because Hakan swore off his bike a couple of years ago for reasons that were never quite clear. We tried all sorts of things to get him to try it out again, but he holds the title of "Most Stubborn Human Being in History" for a reason. As I approached him and his bike, I panicked about what I could say: "Do I acknowledge the bike and risk setting him off?" "Do I say anything to him at all?" He was in a good mood and said that he wanted to try it out again, so I got Merritt back inside and then went out with Hakan. He picked it up again quickly, and then once it seemed to click for him, he never wanted to get off of his bike again. He spent a long time going around in circles on a cross street, and he rode in a neighbor's big half-circle driveway with a kid his age. He was on top of the world the rest of the day - like he had just killed a lion with his bare hands. For the next several days, he was all about his bike, and seemed unable to think of anything else.


Isaac was still in town, so he and Hannah came over for some dinner and then we played a lot of games before getting the boys to bed. We older kids then played dominoes before running out of steam.


Just as Merritt was recovered from his illness, Kira could feel it coming on hard for her as we were going to bed. We awoke to find that Hakan and Carver had sore throats, and so, given Merritt's relatively severe symptoms, we figured we should keep them home. Kira set up tests for COVID for that afternoon, and then she told her Monday clients that she was feeling ill, and left it up to them if they wanted to still come. Two of her appointments were over the computer/telephone anyway, so they still met. Merritt was pretty nervous to go on the bus all by himself, but he had friends waiting at the bus stop with him who helped to give him courage.

Merritt Made a Card for a Missionary Leaving the Branch

As I was working from the kitchen table, I could smell sewage. We had this problem last year, and had two plumbers come out to troubleshoot. It sort of diminished after their last visit, but now I think it was just because of the summer months (although I'm not sure why). Anyway, it was bad, so I called another plumber to see if they could figure it out. They said they would be there Thursday first thing...


Carver spent the morning playing video games, and Hakan, clearly at death's door, went out to ride his bike for about an hour. He'd check in every few minutes to tell me all about new things he had tried and talk about how good he is at riding. After lunch, I wanted to get Carver off of the screen, so I loaded up their bikes in the back of the truck and took them to a large parking lot nearby where they could just ride as fast as they wanted with no fear of traffic. They had a good time, and I managed Apollo.


We were home in time for Kira to take them for their COVID tests (eventually came back negative), and I waited for Merritt's bus. He did great all by himself. He and I went to pick up Avey from school - she had stayed for a club, missing the bus. While waiting for her in the parking lot, Merritt climbed all over the truck, entertaining passersby.

Hakan continued to ride his bike all afternoon until we had to tear him away for dinner. I made a trip out to get some meds for Kira to be more comfortable at night. She did feel better the next day, but was still sick with cold-like symptoms.


Carver and Hakan stayed home Tuesday again, still with sore throats, although they seemed pretty normal otherwise. Kira even took them to a park while I was in the city.


While I was on the train home, I got a text from Hannah. She'd driven home after bus driving to find one of her tires was flat. She had a doctor's appointment to get to, but I wouldn't be back yet. She could walk to it, but she needed a little help loosening a couple of the lug nuts on the wheel. I got home and picked up some tools, then went right over to pick her up from her appointment and go get the tire changed to her spare in no time. On our way to her place, we saw a bald eagle fly overhead! That was the first one I'd ever seen in the wild, so that was cool. Hannah took the car in for a new tire the next day (glad that she had bought the extra coverage that paid for the full replacement).


At home, Hakan had some pain in his gut area. After Merritt's nausea, we were a little worried, but he's had this kind of thing before, and it seems to be more like gas. Anyway, he felt much better in a warm bath, and then went to sleep for a bit. After the other boys were in bed, I escaped to the hardware store to get my fix. While I was gone, Hakan woke back up, feeling refreshed, so he watched some TV with Kira. I came home and replaced a broken toilet seat and used up most of the rest of the supplies I'd bought, and then we all went to bed.


Kira was sleeping well enough despite her sickness, so I got up and did the morning by myself on Wednesday. Carver and Hakan were not clearly any worse, so I just had them go to school. They put up a small protest before agreeing. I got them all ready and out waiting for the bus, and then I took Avey, who had missed the bus. I worked from the kitchen table while Kira slept, and then moved upstairs once she was awake. I finished up my stuff and then replaced the faulty switch on Avey's closet light, then took Apollo to the dog park. He still didn't play hardly at all. He mostly just sniffed around.


I was wiped out by the afternoon, so Kira took over the boys while I took some time to regroup. Avey had a big presentation she did at school on Soviet propaganda, and she came home to report that she totally nailed it. Other kids told her that it was like a TED talk, probably because she actually moved around and spoke like she wasn't bored the whole time. We all went to bed early that night.


Thursday morning came too early. Merritt was very loud downstairs, waking me up. I got up and ready for the day, and then fed the boys before leaving for the city. The plumbers came just after the boys were on their bus, and they looked in several places and inspected with a camera, and they said they would be amazed if the culprit were the cast iron pipe behind our wall (where I've suspected the problem is). They saw on the camera a coupling that looked loose behind the wall in the bathroom, so thought that might be the source. I told them to go ahead and try it. They cut a hole in the wall of the bathroom under the sink (can hardly see it), and found it was very loose, so they were pretty confident that was it. I was so excited that it could be something so simple, but of course it's been a few days now and the smell continued unabated. Back to square one... I'll call them tomorrow and get them to try the next steps, which is a smoke test to see where gas might be escaping.


I was very busy with grading and other work in the city, barely getting a chance to breathe. That night, Hakan lost another tooth.

There was no school Friday, and so we all slept in a bit, although I had a hard time staying asleep after hearing the boys' noise. I eventually got up to feed them all and then cut the grass while Kira got the boys working on their make-up work from the days of school they missed. I took over helping Hakan, and Kira left to mess with her calling stuff, and then I fed them lunch before we all left for some shopping and errands. That took the rest of the afternoon, so we picked up fast food on the way home. Kira was home for a little while before leaving for a Relief Society activity, so I put the kids to bed. Avey made cookie dough while Hannah and I watched TV. Kira made it home to watch with us a little.


Saturday we slept in, and then Kira tackled more calling stuff while I changed the oil on the truck. We had an early lunch and then left for the pumpkin patch, picking up Hannah on the way.

We had a good time there, and there were lots of pumpkins compared to last year. Merritt had a great time playing at their playground and on a "haunted bus." He also rode his first pony! Hakan got his face painted, and Carver went into the corn maze. Avey lived her best life by getting a soft pretzel with some cheese sauce, and Hannah was a big help keeping track of Apollo most of the time.


We came home, and then I cut the boys' hair before they showered. Hakan wanted to try something different again, so he requested a style that he could have spike outward:

He was very pleased with it, and if anyone has no right to criticize another person's hairdo, it is I.

Avey baked her cookies that afternoon, thrilling us all. Carver was especially thankful that she made some without gluten that should keep him well-stocked for a few weeks.


Kira is finally back to herself, and Avey and I have no symptoms. I wonder if it's got something to do with our vaccine, and I also had a flu vaccine a few weeks ago. Not sure if it was the flu that came through, but it may have helped - what do I know?


Maybe with any luck we can get this sewage smell gone this week, and hopefully without breaking the bank. The kids are all excited for Halloween, and we're all very excited for Thanksgiving in a few more weeks!

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