Thursday, October 24, 2013


What amazing timing to have decoded the cryptic "O-R-E-D-T-E-C-T" to spell "Detector;"
For last night, as I lay sleeping peacefully in my bed, one rang out into the night.

And not a mere chirp.
We're talking multiple beeps in a row over and over.

Immediately my heart was racing.

It was the carbon monoxide detector!

Or at least that's what I thought when I didn't smell smoke and didn't see flames.

I sprang up out of bed and ran in, only to have the beeping stop, and to see that it was shining a steady green light.

Well that was weird....

I went back into the room to see Justin's silhouette sitting up in bed.
"What was that?" He asked, sleepily.
"I think it was the carbon monoxide detector."
"It's not that."
"How do you know?"
"I don't smell anything," He said.
"Well that's the THING with carbon monoxide," I said. "It's odorless."
"We don't even have a carbon monoxide detector." He argued.
"Yes we do. It's in the hall."

I don't even know if he heard me.
He was back to snoring within three seconds and I just lay there worrying about the possibility that it had been, indeed, the carbon monoxide detector.

What should I do?
Should I crack a window?
Should I take the kids to the porch?
Should I call someone?
But then it hit me - Justin's snoring alone would be a good detector.
At the rapid and voracious rate that he was gulping in the air around him, he'd probably be the first to be poisoned by the gases.
If he stopped breathing, I'd make a run for it with the kids.

It had stopped chirping now and I nuzzled back into the covers just long enough to re-warm my spot, when there it was, chirping again.

Now, I already suffer from heart palpitations, and let me tell you - Being jarred awake by loud beeping that may or may not signal your impending death is really not a prescribed treatment for those puppies.

Now Justin and I were both in the hall.

It was 4:00am.

"It's not the carbon monoxide detector." He said with his eyes half closed.
"You didn't even think we HAD one." I retorted. "How could you have checked it, if you don't know where it is?"
"Well where is it?"
"It's right there." I pointed.
"OH. I forgot about that one."
"Well can you look at it?"

This is where he walked to the detector, reached up and FELT it.
In the dark of the hallway, he reached his exhausted hand up and FELT it.

Now, I am no expert on carbon monoxide detectors, but I'm pretty sure you can't tell if they are well functioning by feel,
so I pretended to trust his expertise, because that's what a good wife does, and secretly stood behind him and tried to make out the lights with my own 300/300 without-contacts vision.
I could barely tell there was a carbon monoxide detector, myself.

"Remember that little table-top stick-on detector that the firemen gave us a year ago?" I asked him.
"Well, do you know what happened to it?"
"I think it turned a funny color and I threw it away." He answered.
"It turned a funny color?! That's the detector. That's how you know. If it turns a different color that means there's carbon monoxide!"
"Well it just looked OLD to me."

Oh for the love of God.

The beeping had once again stopped, and I had already requested that Justin climb behind the dryer and shut off the valve,
so we shrugged our shoulders and went back to bed;
only to find that Tessa had somehow teleported herself from her bed into ours when we weren't looking.

Just materialized there like she was born of a vapor.

At that point, I gave up on sleeping all together, as sleeping with Tessa is about as peaceful and comfortable as sleeping with a rodeo bull.

We were back to laying down for, at most, two minutes.

"Do you think we should call someone?" I whispered in dark.

No response.

"Justin......Do you think we need to call the fire department and have them check the house? I mean, just to be safe?"


Oh gosh.
Was he......DEAD?!

Had I been right?
And I love being right, but not when it's regarding something that could lead me back to single-parenthood.
I cannot man this vessel alone.
Had he been the first to succumb?

*This is where I did a brief self check, as I have made myself well Internet-versed in the symptoms of gas poisoning.
And kidney failure.
And bot fly infestations.
And many many other odd illnesses, but that is a whole different blog altogether.*

Did I have a headache? No. Muscle weakness? None.
I was clear to proceed with confidence.

I was just about to shake Justin and check for a pulse, when the beeping resumed again, and we were both on our feet in seconds.
After 10 minutes of beep analysis, we realized it was not, in fact, the carbon monoxide detector;
but the smoke detector in our room.
This was decided by tilting our heads and roaming the hallway to stand by every smoke detector we have.
And there are lots of them.
You would think we would be overjoyed to have finally found the source, but we weren't, because that particular source was attached to a 10 foot ceiling and the ladder to reach it was in the garage downstairs.

The garage that houses the cat that tries to bolt for the indoors the second you open any door.
The cat that pees on things the second he steps inside.
Things that you are RENTING.
The cat you have to be a trained athlete to block.
An athlete you are not prepared to be in the 4:00 hour.

For the first time ever, I cursed our tall ceilings and Justin grumbled something I was probably lucky not to hear, and he headed down for the ladder.

When he returned, I asked if he'd gotten the batteries.
Nope. He'd forgotten those.
Nevermind. I'd get one.
Downstairs I trudged as he popped open the ladder with a loud clank, and I cursed HIM for probably waking the baby.

I returned upstairs, and now Chloe was in the hall.

"I can't sleep," she said.
"There's a weird beeping sound."

I told her to go crawl in bed on The Mattress.
"The Mattress" being an old crib mattress that used to be for one of the girls which we saved for the intention of making a bed for a child if they were sick and needed urgent middle-of-the-night care.
The Mattress which now almost permanently resides on the floor by my dresser and is used in events such as this one, which are almost never an emergency.
*See: Every single night.
I explained what was happening and that I was going to have to turn on the light so that we could change the battery in the detector.

The second the light enveloped the room, both girls started screaming and covering their eyes as if I'd hosed them in acid FROM said battery.

It was 4:30am.

Now they are wailing and I'm waving one hand wildly and whispering for them to be quiet or they'll wake their sister as I hold the bottom of the ladder with the other hand.
My waving is wiggling the ladder, and Justin is swaying and attempting to change the battery that is still well above his head with his very OWN 300/300 without-contact vision.

Again - 4:30am.

Finally the girls reduce their shrieking to just loud sniffly gulps and sideways squinty glances, and Justin snaps the new battery in place and closes the cover.
With force.
He descends the ladder and JUST gets it closed and put into the hallway when above our heads,
the chirping resumes.

I looked over at Justin and was worried for a second because I'd never seen THAT face before.
His mouth was weirdly and crookedly hanging open and he was staring at the wall that was four inches from his face.

This is when I watched Justin transform into a gorilla before my very eyes.
Gorilla climb.
Gorilla remove battery.
Gorilla eat battery whole.
Battery beep no more.

Lights out. CPAP on. Like it never happened.

Fifteen minutes later, and everyone was asleep.
Everyone but me.

I was laying in bed with eyes the size of the cat's who loves in the garage,
and let me tell you - Those things are huge.

My mind was racing.

I thought about emergency rescue.
I thought about gas poisoning.
I thought about an escape plan.

I thought about firemen.

For quite awhile.

I thought about our really old landlords who come to change the batteries every 6 months on a schedule and wondered why that battery had only lasted 5 months.
I thought about how they drive a Prius, then I thought about how quiet a Prius is.
I tried to let the thought of that silence lull my mind to sleep.
Two hours passed and so did many MANY other thoughts.

I had JUST finally drifted when there was

Except this time was my *beepity beeping* alarm.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Today I received a phone call from my beautiful 14 year old daughter during school hours.
She was calling me on her break to inform me that her math teacher had pulled her aside today and told her that since she was doing such an amazing job in Algebra this year,
he wanted to suggest that she take AP Algebra AND Calculus next year.

I beamed with pride.

"Great job, Honey! That's amazing! Keep up the good work!"

A half an hour later, that same beautiful 14 year old daughter called me a second time.

This time was to tell me that, though she had been using every day multiple times,
somehow within the last hour,
she had completely forgotten her locker combination.
She had opened it in the morning, placed her lunch inside, closed it, and forgotten how to open it again.

I was perplexed.

How is that even POSSIBLE?

Extremely complicated math problems/Unable to remember a three number sequence.
It's a real head-scratcher.

In the car after school pick-up, I drilled her on how this could be.
Her answer was that she had known there was a 13 and a 31 and she *thought* a 5 in there somewhere, because that
"sounded right."
Apparently those were not the right numbers, though, because there she sat having not eaten the amazing lunch I'd packed her,
(which was sitting wilting in her locker)
but instead having mooched three spoonfulls of yogurt and some rice crackers off of a friend.
And dag nabbit, I had even dug into the kalamata jar for that particular lunch.
Fingers poking right through that cold, oil layer.
Now that is dedication.
A lunch with kalamatas does not a mere Lunchable make.

I was still squinting and shaking my head about this whole situation, when from the back seat, Chloe's voice piped up.

She was doing her homework.

"Mama, What does O-R-E-D-T-E-C-T spell?"

My brain tried to re-spell what she had just said.

"Spell it slower. I don't think I heard you right."

"O.......(four painful seconds).........R.........(four more seconds)........E.......(four of the longest seconds of my life)..."
"Not THAT slow! Geez. Just a little slower than before."

*LONG PAUSE where she contemplated her entire way of being and mentally doused herself in ash*


She was whispering now at a level that, I'm pretty sure, was only audible to dogs.
Whispering from the back seat of my mini van,
when the music was on.

I reached up and turned the music off, SURE I HAD to be missing something.
No one should be this stressed out over eight letters.
I had driven for approximately 2 miles with no recollection of that journey because I had been so consumed with figuring out what word she was referring to.

"Chloe! I need you to read it loudly and sort of slowly so that I can figure out what on earth you're spelling."
"O-R-E-D-T-E-C-T! That's what it says. That's what it says right here."

Was it even in English? Were my neural pathways misfiring?

I was starting to sweat and grip the steering wheel harder.

"That's not a word." Alena said while she rolled her eyes.
Like she had room to judge.
My Mathlete.
"That's not even a word."

"Chloe. I think you're missing a letter or something. That's not spelling anything that I can think of."

"Yes it is! It's right here! O-R-E-D-T-E-C-T."

I could hear it in her voice that she was about to cry.
Chloe's crackly pre-cry voice is practically a seventh family member.

I got tunnel vision for a second and felt my hearing go, which might scare the average person, but it has happened to me so many times I felt like starting to feel it, I was greeting an old friend.

"You're going to need to show me what you're reading. That's really not a word."

She held up her workbook and pointed to the word.
It took me a second to make it out because I was reading it in reverse through the rear-view mirror.
It felt like the most crucial eye exam of all time.

Once I saw it,I realized it was, indeed, O-R-E-D-T-E-C-T.

However, ABOVE that blasted non-word were the instructions:

"Unscramble the letters in the words below."

A key piece of information, if you ask me, but what do I know?
I'm just the driver for this group home.

Now, anyone who knows me knows I ADORE my children.
But they are just so CONFUSED all the time.
And their confusion leads to MY confusion.
A virtual domino game of dying brain cells.

Chloe is perpetually wearing one sock at home.
"Where did your other sock go, Chloe?" I will ask.
"I don't know....I think I had it in the other room......"
Her voice trailing off into they abyss.
How does a person lose a sock from off of their foot?
A sock is not something that just falls off when you least expect.

And Tessa, after years of being told the same thing over and over STILL seems confused about what to do with her clothes at the end of the day.
Do they go draped over her head board?
Crammed in the space between the toilet and the tub?
Do they get put onto her pillow pet?
Do the pants go in the dog crate?
I know!
We hang them over the banister and then take just the underwear down to the toy closet to be found at a later date when the only way to see if they're clean or dirty is to sniff them.

They're usually dirty.

And it is as if it's contagious because I started off much more intelligent than this.
I did.
But little by little I have been leached of all useful knowledge.
Each new child's adorable chubby cheeks seemingly actually made from my ability to form a thought.

The only things I know now are useless facts like what sound a zebra makes.

And I make it.

A lot.

Now, when Alena asks me for help with her homework, about the only help I can give is to type into a search engine for her, and sometimes she even has to help me with the computer's error message before I can do THAT.
I have no idea where silt originates from.
Home Depot?
When she asks me, "What is a function in math?"
The only answer I have to give is, "That's what I'd like to know."

At this point, I think it's pretty clear we Greens are all just bumbling through life.
Lucky to find our mouth holes to put food into.
Lucky to ever get where we're going in one piece.
Lucky to not be picked off by large carnivorous animals.

And lucky to have each other.

I do have ONE piece of knowledge left, though, and that is
that O-R-E-D-T-E-C-T unscrambles to spell "Detector."

I know because I looked at the answer key and then filled in that slot myself with a red pen that I found in Tessa's pants pocket that I found stuffed in the toy box.