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  • Elijah Ricks

Things Fall Apart

Updated: Dec 14, 2020

This week felt like three with all of the chaos. It was anything but boring.


Merritt kicked off the rest of Sunday by saying "really" every other word, in all sorts of awkward places. "Dad, can you just really close this bag for me?" And so on. He's been doing that all week. What's especially funny is that he really does not want to try pronouncing his "Ls," and his "Rs" are not too great either, so that it comes out every time as "weawy."

In any case, we decided to make Sunday's lunch a breakfast, so I made up bacon and pancakes, including some gluten-free ones for Carver. That was a fun treat, although not necessarily filling. Kira made up some eggs to help fill us up. It was a very cold day, and I thought it might be fun to have a fire in the backyard, so I got one going and then the neighbor boy came over to play with Hakan. They get along great. It was a little tricky with the fire, because both boys really wanted to enjoy the fire, but I didn't want them to burn themselves or me. I told them they could toss in any twigs or sticks they find in the yard, and in about 2 minutes they wandered into the forest area behind our yard and brought over huge logs. Anyway, we survived, and no one got burned, even when the little sister came over.


Monday was too much. Kira got the kids going on their schoolwork at home, and I had a lot of grading to do. Kira then had to leave for her 11:00 client, so I took over with the kids, mostly focusing on helping Hakan know what to do next. He's our best one at staying focused, but he also needs the most support with reading, so that he's still a lot of work.


In any case, we noticed a bad smell coming from a few of our vents and the ceiling fan in the bathroom all day. Avey had complained about it a couple of weeks ago, wondering if the bathroom vent somehow was coming into her room. I didn't notice it too much until Monday, and it was bad. It smelled like sewer, and seemed focused in only three rooms. I peeked as best I could inside the vents and didn't see anything, but wondered if maybe a mouse had died in there somewhere. I thought I should also check in the crawl space to see if there was any leaking from our pipes, but I didn't even smell the same smell down there. The pipes looked good to me, and so I called our HVAC guy, who said he'd come out on Wednesday.

A Giraffe in a Bumblebee Costume

What made the evening especially fun (#sarcasm) was when four of the upstairs lights would not work. Carver's room light, our stair chandelier, and Avey's room light would not turn on. It wasn't the circuit breaker, because all of the other lights on the circuit were fine, so I was scratching my head. I hadn't touched any of the fixtures for several months, so it wasn't something that I had done. I decided to just go into the attic and see if I could trace the wires to where the break would be - I figured it was probably starting at Avey's light. While crawling around up there, Carver called up to tell me that the lights were working again. I stood up to come back down and he said they were off again. I knelt back down and jiggled a wire and they were back on again.


I decided to just leave it alone at that point, as it was getting late and I was not in the mood to get going on another project just yet, so we'll see if they turn back off again. Ahh... the joys of home ownership...

But the true treat of the day for me was when I found out that I had failed to finish the second disc of Better Call Saul before returning it to the library. It's probably my favorite show ever, and so I was devastated when Hannah and I got talking about it and I realized that I hadn't realized there were 4 episodes on that disc, and 3 on the other two. Naturally, the library is doing this thing now where they keep the returned items just sitting in bins for 3 days before checking them back in, so I had to wait before I could resume my binge [melancholy piano music plays in background].


With the complete and total debacle of Monday behind us, we awoke to Tuesday. As we should have predicted, the smell had completely disappeared from the vents. I searched high and low, and could not locate the smell anywhere. I had to ask Avey and Kira if I had dreamed the whole thing. I called the HVAC guy to let him know, if that would change his ability to make an assessment, but he kept the appointment the next morning.


I taught my morning classes from home, just not feeling the city commute. Kira kept the kids on task with their schoolwork. I then took Avey to drama club in the afternoon, and went on a grocery run while I was out. I then came home to get dinner going and then break away to teach my evening course.


Hakan tried a little bit of ramen that I made for my lunch, and he fell in love. We made him another pot of it for the next day, and he requested it at every meal.

Attempting to Glide Off the Trampoline

One of the days this week, Hakan got the idea to strap on the tail of his glider to his own back and see if he could glide a bit more gracefully. He tested it out by jumping off of the trampoline, and seemed convinced that it made a little bit of a difference.


Wednesday, I got up early for the HVAC guy to come, but then he was late. The smell had returned, but it was notably milder than Monday. He looked in all of the vents, went into the crawl space, and went into the attic, but he came up with nothing. He said it is common for mice or other rodents to find their way into the vents and die, but he also said that there's a chance there are fumes escaping from one of our pipes in the crawl space. He recommended waiting a few more days and then contacting a plumber to check the pipes out. At least he didn't charge us...

Hakan Wants to be a Scientist When He Grows Up

The weather was much milder, and I was suddenly out of things to do for work. All of my lectures were prepared, and I had graded everything that was turned in, so I had a rare moment experiencing no obligations weighing me down. The weather was nicer out, so I took the youngest two boys to a park 15 minutes away. Carver hadn't finished his schoolwork, so he stayed behind. The boys had a blast: Hakan made good friends with a 4-year-old boy who followed him around. We left at dusk to do showers and dinner before bed.


That evening I thought I would just take a peek inside the bathroom fan where I'd smelled the stench the worst, and I discovered that the fan isn't connected to anything - it just blows into the gap between the floors. I don't see why that would cause a stench, but now it's something I want to try to fix...


Thursday morning I taught my last 3 courses of the school year from home. That was nice to get done, although I've got a huge storm of grading coming this week, what with their final essays due. Kira was up at about 5 that morning, and didn't fall back asleep, so she was tired all day. After finishing my courses, I baked some brownies and took Avey to drama club. She's got the part of a pirate and also a sophisticated and cultured shark. We look forward to her performance...


I then came home to take the boys to the same park as the day before. This time, Carver came along, and they again had a blast.

We left at dusk again so that we would have time to pick up Avey at the school on our way home.


I checked all day to see if the second disc of my show had been checked in yet so that I could go and get it, but by 5:45 p.m., it still hadn't. But then Hannah surprised me when she brought it over that night - apparently it was on the shelf by 6:00 or so, so I stayed up a little later to finish that disc, and now I get to wait again for the third disc...


Friday was some work in the morning for me, including recording a review session for my statistics students. Hannah and I then made our monthly Costco run in the afternoon, and then the kids all watched The Nightmare Before Christmas during their dinner.

Saturday, Kira and Hannah went to clean the church and run some errands, so they were gone most of the day while I managed the kids. The weather was rainy, so they didn't want to go anywhere or do anything. I gave them haircuts and showers, and when Kira was home I took Avey for a hair trim, just touching up the back a bit. I then ran some errands, getting some more Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers. I came home to feed the boys dinner, and Kira and I got them to bed before Kira went to work on her talk for Sunday.


Today, I went to hear Kira's talk and keep the kids from losing their minds. They were really good, and Kira's talk went very well also.


We had some funny moments this week, too. For their advent calendars, we gave the kids little pens one day this week. We woke up to find that Merritt had tested his out all over his own skin.

Perhaps we should have seen that coming, but he's not generally the type to do that sort of thing, so that was weird. What's even funnier is that he got a hold of the pen later in the day and added even more ink to his face while looking in the mirror.


Carver shocked us all when he took me up on my suggestion to try his nachos with salsa. He usually turns down every new food idea, so this was earth shattering. What's more bananas is that he actually really likes salsa now! Maybe this will open up his mind to new ideas as far as food is concerned.

Hannah decided to fly out to Colorado for Christmas, so she got her flights settled, and we're going to work out having the kids open their presents from her before she leaves.


This next week is going to be a whole lot of grading for me while I try to wrap up the semester, and the kids are going to hold on a little longer before their winter break. We're just about ready for Christmas, although I can't seem to find a time to get a family photo put together. Maybe this week...

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