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  • Elijah Ricks

There's Always Room for Cello

Updated: Aug 7

Kira came home this week and then we all tried to recover from her absence. Carver did orchestra camp, and we all relished the last week before school...


Saturday morning brought news that my great aunt Rayda had died. We were expecting it, but it was a great loss to the family, as she was beloved by all. I was sad to have only vague memories of her from years ago when I'd met her. We were glad to learn that there would be a way to join the funeral service virtually later in the next week.


Merritt attended a birthday party last Saturday for a classmate. He was glad to have other classmates there, but he told one of the parents there that he was ready to go home early. Luckily, I was already on my way there. He was having a fine time, but he was just ready to come home. He told me he wanted a towel, and I reminded him where I had put his towel next to his water bottle before I left and he had said that he would remember. I suppose there was just too much going on to pay any attention to my instructions. We got him a late dinner at home, and then Kira called to check in with everybody before bedtime.


Sunday, Jesse hitched a ride to church with Hannah, and the others helped me tidy up the house a bit for Kira's homecoming the next day. I made pancakes and bacon for lunch, and then we all went to a nearby farm and playground for the afternoon.

Carver complained the entire time. Granted, it was very hot and humid, but the rest of us at least took it in stride to enjoy the outdoors and the sights. Apollo was very interested in the goats, but at least didn't bark or try to bite them.


Anyway, we parted ways with Hannah when we left, and then went home to cool off and relax for a while before dinner. I then built a fire in the backyard as it was getting later, and we all hung out in the backyard shade watching for hummingbirds, bats, and fireflies past the kids' bedtimes. We all had a good time, and then went to bed smelling like smoke and sweat and exhaustion.


Monday morning came early for us all. I fed the boys and then took Carver to his first day of orchestra camp. He signed up to play the cello this year, and each day this week there was a 1.5 hour practice so they could get a head start on the year. I'm glad that one of his best friends also signed up to play the cello, so that they get to sit next to each other and hopefully keep each other motivated on coming.


His friend lives about 20 minutes away, and so I thought it might be a good opportunity to invite him over to play in the afternoon. It was so hot, I figured I'd set up an epic slippery slide in the backyard. Of course, then Carver asked if he could also invite his other friend who lives nearby. That friend's brother gets along well with Jesse and Merritt, so the whole event quickly snowballed into inviting every 5-to-10-year-old in the tri-state area into our backyard. At least, that's how it felt. I picked up Carver and his orchestra buddy, Robbie, and then fed them both lunch before they went outside to play. The other two boys walked over from their house, and I spent the rest of the afternoon keeping an eye on everyone, and setting up the water course. They at least had a very good time while I didn't get much done.

Once they were all at their respective houses, we had our own dinner and got the kids to bed. Kira was supposed to get home sometime that day, but she informed me in the afternoon that it would not be until later that night, so she would miss the boys' bedtime. I let them know, and they were all disappointed, but understood.


Kira made it home around 9:40 that night, and then unloaded the car and sat down to unwind from the road. They'd had a good trip, although I still have not heard very much about the details. She hopes to sit down and write up her own post to document the trip, so keep an eye out for that.


We got to bed late, which was an unfortunate move because Kira and Amber were up early the next morning to get Amber to the airport. Kira gave some quick greetings to the boys before heading back out on the road again, I got up a little later and fed the boys before taking Carver to orchestra, and then left Jesse with Avey while Merritt and I hung out at the splash pad and playground while we waited for Carver. Merritt played in the water for about 20 minutes and then wanted to go to the playground. There, he decided to have a "quick" snack of some cheese crackers, but he couldn't stop talking the entire time, and so he took about 20 minutes to get through the small bag of crackers.


Kira beat us home, so she did most of lunch by herself. We were both very tired from the preceding days, so she sent me for a nap, and then took one herself. It helped, but we were both still dragging the rest of the day. There were a few errands that afternoon. It was sweltering hot and humid, and so we tried and failed to stay inside.


Wednesday, Avey had her high school orientation from 8 to 2, so I got up early to get her there. It was a lot of information, and she got separated from her group at some point, but she got her school-assigned laptop and found her locker, so we're in pretty good shape. The high school is an intimidatingly large building, and so we expect some getting lost for the first couple of weeks, but it should be an overall nice move, we hope. I sure liked high school better than junior high, but of course, times have changed...


At home, Kira tried to get caught up with her calling and such. She took Carver to orchestra, and I ran some errands before picking up Avey. Kira took the younger boys to play at an indoor playground, as it was still prohibitively hot and humid. A violent storm came through for an hour or so while they were there, blowing hard and pouring rain. It was quite the sight to see. Once that died down, I took the older two kids with me to get some groceries, and then Kira surprised us at the store with the younger two kids when they were coming home from the playground.


Merritt was a total wreck the entire day - crying or fuming at the drop of a hat. We were very glad to get him in his bed for the night.


Thursday I did breakfast and then Kira took Carver to orchestra on the way to taking the younger two to their eye appointments. I did some work and then joined my great aunt's funeral virtually. Kira and I had failed to properly coordinate who was going to pick up Carver, and so I should have just left to get him when she was not responding to my texts, but instead I got a text from his friend's mom that she was hanging out with him outside of the school. I rushed over to meet them and bring him home. Kira was getting no reception where she was, and so we vowed to make better plans next time.


When they pulled into the garage, Kira noticed a young house wren on the hood of the car. She hadn't noticed how it got there, and so as the kids inspected it, it flew behind some stuff in the garage. They tried to coax it to fly out of the garage, but it just kept flying to new places inside the garage to hide. One if its parents (presumably) was chirping at it from outside of the garage, as if saying, "Get out of there this instant!" The little guy just really liked the garage, I guess. Eventually it landed on my bike helmet. I carefully removed the helmet from its place and carried it slowly out of the garage, telling Jesse to be ready to close the garage door behind me. The bird stayed very still on my helmet, just staring at me. Once the garage was closed behind me, the little bird flew off and hung onto our bricks at the front of the house.

The whole thing was kind of weird, but I'm glad to see that I'm not the only die-hard fan of my garage remodel.


Anyway, it turns out that Merritt needs glasses just for astigmatism, so he is very excited about that. If only they would be ready for the first day of school...


One of our elderly neighbors is moving soon, and she asked if our boys could come and pick up sticks from her yard. I recruited Jesse, and we made short work of it for about 15 minutes. Kira took Avey to two appointments in the afternoon and they went shopping in between, so it was just the boys and I for dinner and bedtime. Kira and Avey arrived home just as I was putting them to bed.


Hannah came over that night and told us about her day - at one point she hit her funny bone and it was so debilitating that she felt like she might pass out. Luckily, she was feeling better by the next morning for racquetball after I dropped off Carver. We played three good games and then I picked up Carver and brought him and his cello home. They recorded their progress that day, which you can view here. All week I've been telling him he needs to name his cello, and he thinks the whole thing is rather silly. I don't make the rules, though, so we'll get him there soon enough.


Jesse was supremely bored in the morning, and wanted some craft to do. Kira suggested he put googly eyes on things, and so he decorated his water bottle:

After lunch, the older two kids had their eye appointments, and so Kira took them, and I tried to take the younger two swimming for the last time before school starts. We got to the pool, and it was closed. We were all quite disappointed, but luckily it was just a stone's throw from the splash pad, so we did that instead. Once we were thoroughly soaked, Merritt wanted to move to the playground where he met a girl a little younger than he. She took a real shine to him and they got along famously the rest of the time - she laughed at all of his silly jokes, and was thoroughly impressed with all of his physical feats of bravery and agility. That did some good for his little ego, it seems.


Once home, I cut the grass in the horrifying humidity while the two boys rode around on some tricycles we'd inherited from the neighbors who just moved out (they were trying to downsize). Kira brought the other two home from their eye appointments. Carver needs new lenses, and Avey's trying a new contact lens. I ran for a couple of errands while Kira took the two older boys to a sleepover for the night. It was rather nice to have them gone for a bit, so Kira did some work while waiting with Merritt as he fell asleep, and then Hannah was over for some TV.


The boys had a great time at the sleepover, and Merritt was rather glad to have the TV all to himself this morning. Avey is taking care of the neighbor dogs a little today and tomorrow, and the boys are due for some back-to-school haircuts. Otherwise, we seem likely to keep today relatively low-key as we build up our strength for school to start on Wednesday. I'm glad that I get a couple of weeks before I have to go back to campus, as I've got a lot of preparation to do before my semester starts.


Let's hope we can stay cool until all of that!


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