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  • Elijah Ricks

Too Car Family

It was another week that feels like it was 3 smashed together...


The reader may recall that last weekend I had a student contact me, upset about his grade. It's a much longer story than that. I won't go deep into detail, but this student was not attending class or doing the required readings for the course, and so he was doing poorly. Rather than take responsibility and make the appropriate changes, he accused me of purposefully sabotaging him. There is, of course, no evidence of this, and it's impossible because of the way my grading system is set up. Anyway, I spent a good chunk of the weekend and Monday morning dealing with the whole situation. I was relieved to learn that I am not the first professor he had accused of this, and so that helped to prove that I am not actually the problem. Anyway, the dean finally agreed to meet with him, and basically talked him down, but I have not heard any word of an apology...


Anyway, Kira had a couple of clients on Monday, so I finished up the work I had to do, and then installed our new smart doorbell that had arrived the day before. It installed pretty easily, but then for some reason it would not ring when I pushed the button. The camera worked fine, so it was clearly getting power. Anyway, after a while troubleshooting, I discovered that it was some setting in the application that had programmed it not to ring in the house, but just on my phone. I fixed it, and now we've had a lot of fun using it. For example, on Thursday, I got to greet the boys as they got off the bus at home while I was sitting at my desk in Chicago. Merritt has had a lot of fun talking into the doorbell, and then watching himself from the camera's point-of-view on my phone. So after installing that, I took Apollo on a long walk, and got back in time for the boys' bus.


Hakan had Tae Kwon Do that evening, but in a surprise, he told us that he had changed his mind, and didn't want to continue with it either. That was sure a roller coaster. After the first day he was talking about a black belt, and now he was all done.


Hannah had not slept well the night before, and so she stayed home to get a much better night's rest that night. Avey and I watched a movie and Kira opted to do her own thing.


Tuesday was a rainy morning, so Kira dropped me off at the station, and then went back to get the kids fed and on the bus. It was another solid experience reminding us we need a second car, because I can't take a later train and still make it on time, and lately, even if it's not raining, it's too dark by the time I need to leave. Anyway, I had good classes in the city, and in the afternoon I did my first peer observation of an assistant professor. Now that I'm tenured, I get to do these every semester. It went really well, but I was wiped out by the time that was over.


At home, Kira had found a coding class for Carver, and it's at our local library (#free)! Carver came home with a handout for Robotics Club this year, and was excited about it. Then, he read through the packet and found out that they are asking applicants to write a short essay about why they want to be in the club. He immediately lost interest, and remains adamant that he doesn't want to do it this year.


My ride home was very dumb. There was apparently a gas leak near the train line in one of the cities the train goes through, and so they were not letting the trains pass through. So they stopped there, and then had school buses waiting to get the passengers the rest of the way. That delayed me by nearly an hour, and Kira was waiting for me to get home so that she could go to a Relief Society activity at the church. Instead, Hannah came to pick me up, although I was still back in enough time that we could have managed it. Still, Kira was thankful to have a few minutes to prepare.


The boys had a career day at school, so they dressed up like what they want to be. Carver wants to be a chemist, and Hakan wants to be a marine biologist:

Merritt picked to dress as a ninja, but didn't do the whole costume, so I doubt anyone knew what he was.


I was surprised at home to find Hakan lying on the couch in agony. He had some gas or something, as the pain was in his gut. After Kira left, I put him in a warm bath and had him stretch out instead of scrunching up, thinking that would help it move. He felt a lot of relief, and I also gave him some stuff to help him...you know...go. He fell asleep pretty quickly in his bed after the bath, and never did...you know...go.

Carver Designed a Cover for a Made-up Video Game

Wednesday morning, during the morning rush, Hakan explained to me the latest drama at school. He has a friend who told him that a girl in their class has a crush on him (tell me something I don't know, right?). So he explained that now, at recess, this girl and a couple others chase him around. Man, some things just don't change. They have not caught him yet, apparently, but I'm curious to find out what they do to him once they do. He's abandoned the Mohawk now, and instead likes it styled over to the side, so it looks really good now and less devil-may-care, like before his haircut.


Anyway, after they were off to school, I got to work and Kira got ready to go help someone get to a doctor's appointment. That took up most of her day. I took Apollo on another long walk, although no amount of time seems to scratch his itch.

Apollo Plays Chef

In the afternoon, the boys made it home and then I took Avey to a dental appointment and called about some trucks I was eyeing online. While there, I checked on the doorbell camera from my phone and it was not getting power. It was very windy, and that almost always means a power outage in our neighborhood, what with all the trees. I checked with Kira, and sure enough, the power was out. Great. the crew came, and the outage was two trees that had fallen on a power line two houses down from us. They estimated it would be about 4 to 5 hours. Ugh. We fed and bathed the boys without electricity. I was glad to have made several candles a few months back, and glad we had plenty of batteries for our flashlights. Part of the power line had been pulled down from the pole in our yard, and so it was interesting to watch the workers put that back up right at bedtime.

They had it fixed pretty quickly, but the power was still out as they messed with the trees. Hannah brought us some groceries and fast food we'd ordered while she was out at the store, and then she bailed, enjoying the wonders of electricity in her fancy neighborhood. We finally got settled in enough to watch a TV episode from Avey's phone (who has unlimited data), and almost immediately after it was over, the power was back on!

Thursday was a standard day. Kira drove me again due to rain and darkness. I had good classes again, and then a busy afternoon. I made a game plan for truck shopping the following day, and then was home to help with dinner and finish up emptying the trashes that Kira had started.

Stunning Sunset

Friday, Merritt woke us up early, and my mind was buzzing with all sorts of things most of the night, so neither Kira nor I was in a good mood. We got the kids to school and then got ourselves ready to leave. We had planned to shop at a couple of promising places in Illinois, so off we went. The first truck we looked at was in the "could work" category. I didn't love it, but I could make it work. The salesman was rather pushy and wanted a lot of information before we got to see the truck. We left for the place where the frontrunning candidate (on paper) was. It was a long drive, putting us an hour and 15 minutes away, but the truck there was in much better condition. The sales guy there was the owner of a one-man dealership. He specializes in buying only certain trucks of certain years that he insists are the peak of design. He has pretty strict criteria for models he'll buy and mileage on them, and then he fixes up other things on them and sells them. We caught this truck before he had fixed up the cosmetic and other minor issues, so we were able to get it from him in our price range. I'm planning to do most of the fixing up myself (new bumper, recharge A/C, etc.).


Long story short, we ran into some very lengthy paperwork stuff and Kira had to leave me at the dealer so that she could get back for the boys to get off the bus. I was glad to have the smart garage door opener, so I could open the garage for the boys from my phone, just in case. Kira asked two of our neighbors if they could be with the boys for just a couple of minutes, as she was likely to just miss the bus, but both were out of town. Luckily (for us), a third neighbor was home quarantined after having COVID-19, and his kids were getting home on the same bus. He watched our kids from a distance just to make sure everyone was accounted for, and Kira got there just a few minutes later. Whew!


Kira did not tell the boys a word about the new truck, so when I pulled in, Hakan's jaw dropped. They all came out and immediately started exploring it and playing in it.

It's a 2004 Dodge Dakota with an extended cab. It's got low miles, and the V8 engine runs great. It just fits in the garage, and the color even goes well with my new garage remodel!


We decided to take it to a concert in the park that night with a brass ensemble. The kids squeezed into the very tight back seats, but it does sit 6 technically. Avey had rehearsal, so she couldn't join us. We were home after dark, and got the boys in bed before enjoying some older-person time.

Apollo really liked the taste of Hakan's leg just before bed:

Saturday was full, too. Avey had rehearsal in the morning, so I took her to that, and then came home to cut the grass. I then took the men of the house to a park for a picnic lunch. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, so that was a good time. They ate in the back of the truck.

Kira worked on a talk that she was preparing for the adult session of Stake Conference that night. She finished that up, and after a long time at the park, we came back home. Hakan then spent the afternoon making jewelry for Kira and then for a neighbor who is like a third grandma to the kids. I got inspecting the truck more closely to make a plan for my first repairs, and prioritizing things. Kira left for the session to give her talk, and it went well. I got the boys to bed. After the session, Hannah came to join Avey and me for some TV, and Kira went to get a few groceries before coming home.


I spent this morning putting the second coat of paint on the garage, so that now it is officially done.

I am so glad to have that over with. I still need to do some more organizing in the garage to get everything where I want it, but at least it is not that awful beige, and there are no more gaps between the ceiling and the walls on the west wall. Not to mention no more awful drywall patches that are the wrong size!


It was quite the insane week, so we're glad to have that behind us. It should be helpful to have the second set of wheels now. Avey's birthday is this week, and we'll be celebrating on Saturday, so that should be loads of fun. I'm not entirely sure that I'm ready for her to be 14, but she seems pretty anxious to get there...


I'll tell you all about it next time!

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