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  • Writer's pictureElijah Ricks

Up Yours, 2021

Updated: Jan 3, 2022

We said "goodbye" to this last year with some outings and final successes.

It had rained all night so that we awoke Monday to a very muddy world. There was thick fog covering the area, so that matched the general sense in the home as well. Kira got up with the boys at 6 to try to keep the cannibalism to a minimum, and then she came back to bed. I got up to feed the youngest two breakfast and started laundry.

Once Kira woke for the day, I took off to find a correct size of fuel tank vapor hose for the truck, but went to two places and they didn't really have what I needed. They had the correct size hose, but it was not rated for fuel, but the guy said that it would probably be fine. I figured I'd try it out and see if it did the trick for the check-engine light, and if it did I would then find the correct hose type. I put the hose on with little trouble, but I had given up any hope of it actually working. My next plan was to take it into another mechanic to do just a smoke test and tell me where the leak was. As near as I could tell, everything I had done was just fine.

In the afternoon, I took the two oldest kids to the library and then brought them home to watch a new movie. Merritt wanted nothing to do with it, so he instead played on his school iPad in our room. He, of course, cannot bear to be alone either, so I accompanied him and sat nearby, missing the movie also. We then had dinner and played a new board game we'd gotten for Christmas, although the kids had lost some of the important pieces, so we spent a long time trying to find them first (we still haven't found one of them...). In preparation for the latest Spiderman movie, we watched the one that had come out before it to refresh our memories.

Tuesday, I got up to feed the boys again and Kira slept. I was anxious to get all of the clutter gone, so I started taking down the Christmas tree and such. That turned into a family affair as we all got in on the fun. It was supposed to rain that day, but it started snowing instead as we were taking down the tree. The kids abandoned the project at hand and started looking for all of their lost snow gear they haven't needed so far. Kira left for a chiropractor appointment, and the kids all went into the yard to play in the snow. Carver came in after about 10 minutes, and the rest all expressed interest in sledding. It really was the best chance we'd have, as the snow was likely to melt later in the day, so I pulled Carver out of the house and we all went sledding. The check-engine light came on immediately, which I expected, but it still made me sad. The kids and Apollo had a good time, although Carver just spent his time in the truck, having met his quota of outdoor fun for the day.

We came home to dry off and get warm, and I called a new mechanic to schedule the truck for the smoke test. The guy said they were wide open, so as soon as Kira was back from her outings, she picked me up. Avey and I then took the van to see the new Spiderman movie. We enjoyed it thoroughly, and realized that we probably should have watched some different movies to refresh our memories before this one...

I got a call from the mechanic during the movie that they found the problem. Just like the other mechanic had said, the leak was clearly from the fuel tank filler neck that I had installed several weeks ago. But this mechanic told me exactly where the leak was and what was the problem, whereas I did not have this information from the previous one. It turns out that I had installed everything correctly, but that the filler neck was poorly manufactured, and there was a gap left between two pieces that need to be airtight. I was so glad to finally know what the problem was, and the mechanic just charged me labor instead of for the smoke test. I spent part of the movie making my plan.

After the movie, Avey and I made a quick run to a store for some essentials, and then went home to help with bedtime. As we watched TV that night, Avey and I took turns coloring a ball that she bought for the boys.

You can bounce it around indoors because it has very little mass, and so it doesn't knock things down or hurt if you get pelted in the face (the boys have really put that one to the test). They really love it, so we decided to decorate it for fun.

The next morning, Kira let me sleep in a bit, and then took me to pick up the truck. This mechanic showed me exactly where the leak was and told me what he could do to replace it. I declined, however, and went home and immediately patched up the hole using a metal-reinforced filler compound that I like.

I'm very confident that this did the trick, so I feel like I can finally rest easy a little bit and leave this whole ordeal behind me. I put back the old fuel tank vapor hose (because it's actually rated for fuel), and then moved on to other projects. I took down all the Christmas lights on the house, but ran out of time to take them off of the tree in our front yard. Kira kept very busy with a ton of stuff from church and her role as RS President. She also tried to find an outing for the kids using some Christmas cash we'd received. We settled on going to a trampoline place 30 minutes away, so we loaded up to go do that.

Avey opted to stay home and chill out with the quiet, and I was tasked with going to three stores in the area to return some items, drop off some donations, and pick up a few things.

It was very crowded this time around, but they had fun.

I made it back right in time to pick up Kira and the kids, and then we picked up fast food on the way home.

I then took Avey out to get her own meal before we got the boys in bed and watched some TV.

Thursday morning, Merritt woke Kira and me up twice at 2 and then 2:45 a.m. He was scared that there might be a bee or something that could get in his room (because he saw a fly earlier). Kira dealt with him, and then I let her sleep in when I got up to feed the boys. It had snowed lightly again overnight, so Merritt and Jesse went to play in it, but it just wasn't enough for sledding or snowmen. Kira went out to play with Jesse in the snow, but by then it was mostly mud. They built a small ramp out of the remnants of the snowman from the previous snowfall, and Kira pulled him over the ramp in the sled.

In the afternoon, we all took a trip to some stores to return and exchange items, and to pick up some groceries. The kids were well-behaved, and so it was relatively painless. As we were getting the kids ready for bed, Jesse got asking me about college. He asked "do you have to like, learn anything?" Sadly, these days the answer seems to be "not really, outside of my courses." I think that he thought college is a place you have to go, but he didn't realize it is more school. He then asked if you have to go every day, and I told him that you get to pick what time your classes are. He was glad to hear that. Of course, by the time he's ready for college, I assume that we professors will have been replaced with Artificial Intelligence programs that are delivered through virtual reality headsets while students sit in jacuzzies or whatever, so nothing that I told him will matter. A few minutes later, he asked me how much wedding rings cost, so I'm starting to wonder what this guy's long-term plans are with his little girlfriend...

Friday I got up early to go shop for tires for the truck. Now that I am pretty sure I've solved the leak in the fuel vapor line, I am ready to move onto new things. And with the first snowfall, it became even more apparent that the truck's tires are inadequate for the winter weather. I took it in as soon as I woke up, hoping that they could get the tires installed before breakfast, but they didn't even have any in the size I needed, so I had them order some to install next week.

I came home to feed the younger two boys (Carver can't be bothered with food when he's playing video games online with his friends). Kira awoke and took over the kids while I started work on the tree in the front yard - taking down the Christmas lights and pruning the branches.

We planned to spend the afternoon at another indoor activity place, but Carver was finally invited to a friend's house he'd wanted to see. He opted to go hang out there instead of join us. Kira drove him to the friend's house while I took the rest of the family to bowl. It was pretty crowded, but we had a pretty good time. I bowled probably the worst game in my life, barely breaking 100. Merritt got bored after the fifth frame, but he stuck with it to the end.

We were sad to find out that the place no longer had roller skating, but the boys got excited to find out that they had replaced that area with some bouncy houses, so they did that instead, thanks again to a gift of cash we received from Christmas.

They went back and forth between that and arcade games, while Avey focused on arcade games (she's too old for the bounce houses anymore).

Jesse was thrilled when he went to do skee ball and got the 5,000-point hole on the first throw. He later got the 10,000-point hole later in the game.

Kira made it to us at the arcade, and then when Avey was bored I drove her to pick up milkshakes on the way home. Carver was having such a great time with his buddy that they dropped him off later than they'd hoped, but they really loved having him over, so we hope that can happen more often.

After dinner, we let the boys stay up and play some games we'd received for Christmas, and then we went out to bang pots and pans (a tradition from Kira's family). We had a few fireworks leftover from the summer, so we set off some of those before calling it a late night.

Kira, Avey, and I then settled in to watch the new Venom movie, but were unimpressed. We had a quick swig of sparkling grape juice and went to bed.

Today has so far been a boring start to the year. We've focused on cleaning up all of the Christmas clutter around the house, and it's been snowing gently for hours now, although there is almost no accumulation thus far. It's supposed to keep snowing the rest of the day, so we'll see if anything sticks.

The kids have Monday off, but Kira will be at work all day, so I'll be trying to keep their energy at manageable levels the day before school starts back up. Hannah gets home sometime that day also, so it will be fun to see how Apollo flips his lid at seeing her again.

2022 is bound to be an improvement in some ways, right?

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