Thursday, June 30, 2011

That Beeping Alarm Clock, and other Stories

That Beeping Alarm Clock
Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog probably remembers me describing on an occasion or two how my bedroom is the catch-all of catch-alls for all kinds of stuff.  All the boxes of hand-me-downs I don't have time to sort; all the stacks of clean bedding which is hard to put away, so I don't; all the miscellaneous toys I take away from the kids when they are fighting about them; all the absolutely whatever that ends up without an "official" home in our already overly full household.  Everything gets stacked and stashed in my room, sometimes to the point that I have only little footprint sized holes among the stuff by way of which I cautiously navigate in and out of the bed each night. That's the exact point at which my room is currently.

Yesterday, I woke up with a headache, so I went back to bed after making Matt's lunch and getting him off to work.  After I returned to bed, when I was almost into a healthful sleep stage, I heard an alarm clock going off.  It sounded like one of Joe's and my battery operated ones that we use as back-up during times of rough weather and potential power outages.  But this particular clock was only beeping sporadically, and it was with very muted beeps.  So I thought to myself, in my haze of sleep, that I was just not going to worry about it.  It was probably just a weak battery gasping its final breaths.   The beeping soon quieted and I fell into a restful slumber.

Fast forward now to last night at bed time.  Joe had gone down to his church office to work on the VBS materials for next weeks program.  After the kids were in bed, I went to bed, too, planning to read awhile before sleeping.  As anyone who tries this regularly can probably imagine, that reading thing,... well,... it didn't really happen.  A page, maybe two, then I was re-reading the same lines over and over again.  I put the book down and fell instantly to sleep. 

After a time I heard the familiar pad, pad, pad of small feet that I suspected foretold of a night time visitor.  And yes, there was soon a quiet voice asking for a drink, or some such thing.  Then a short time after that, just as I was once again falling asleep, I heard another pad, pad, pad and another small voice asking for something.  Truthfully, I was so deeply asleep that I don't even know which child it was or what they wanted.  When yet another time had passed, somebody small climbed in bed with me.  And then another somebody small.  I don't really even remember these.  But when I awoke, there they were.  One on one side of me with her feet toward the head of the bed and another on the other side with her feet crosswise over Joe's entire side.  When I was finally ready to go back to bed, I went to Clara's bed since she's at Bible camp this week.

But I ought to perhaps tell about my waking up.  While I was enjoying as peaceful a slumber as possible with so much human traffic in and out of my obstacle course of a room, I heard the beep, beep, beep of that stupid neurotic alarm clock again.  And this time, it was engaged in full attack mode. None of the the sporadic muted tones of the morning.   It persisted with its standard beep, which starts out slowly and quietly and then increases in volume and speed.   That noise was not going to stop unless I found the beeping clock and put it out of its beeping misery.  I crawled out of bed, over the assorted sleeping bodies and with my sleep-addled consciousness I attempted to find it.

At first I thought it might be in the bin of swimming suits the kids had dug through on our one nice and warm day a few weeks ago.  But no.  No clock could I find there.  After that, I searched the cardboard box immediately below the first bin.  That box is, don't laugh, from my last thrift store shopping adventure back in March.  I just don't know where to put all the good deals I get.  (And yes, I have had reason to dig through it several times since then.  Voila!  a quick excavation and there it is, a new phone or mixer or whatever.  So it's really not just stuff taking up space.  I really do use the treasures I bring home.  Really.)

But last night I was not thinking so kindly about my second hand purchasing habit.  There were perhaps some untoward words working their way to my lips as I rutted around in that stupid box that shouldn't even be there, if I would ever get my stupid act together and take care of the stupid stuff. 

After several fruitless moments of digging through the box, I decided the noise was coming from under the bed.

Oh, shoot!  Not under the bed!  Please not that!

I have several boxes of packed-away books under my side of the bed and they are kind of hard to pull out even when there is room to pull them out.  But as I've mentioned, there really is no room right now to pull anything out from under anywhere.  Those little foot prints I use to navigate into bed each night...definitly no room there to pull boxes out.  So, still in my sleep addled state, I wedged myself into one of those little footprints.  I wiggled and shoved until I could fit between the piles and the bed.  I shoved a bit more until I had room for a box of books.  And after a little grunting and tugging and perhaps a few choice words mumbled under my breath, out came the box.  Now all I had to do was reach under and around it to find the beeping clock. But guess what?  No clock.

I hoisted that first book box up to the top of the surrounding piles and reached under for the next one.  More tugging and grunting and mumbling.  And still, no beeping clock. 

It was at this point I remembered having seen one of Joe's cool flashlights on his side of the bed earlier, so I rummaged around until I felt its shape among the bedclothes.  Turned it on, wiggled a bit more to fit my whole head down under the bed.  And still no sign of the clock.

I was ready to throw in the towel.  I shoved the book boxes back beneath the bed.  I squeezed and wiggled myself out from under and among the piles of junk.  And just as I was about to stand up, I saw that the clock was just beneath the edge of the bed, further toward the foot of the bed than I had been looking.  It was actually right next to my legs as I was kneeling down digging.  But because of the piles and heaps I could only look in one direction, and so I had missed it. 

I was ever so glad to finally shut the beeping thing off.

Sweet Little Bike Ride (aka Sweet Little Bike Awryd)
Yesterday morning I laced up my shoes and headed out for a short walk.  None of my walking/talking ladies could make it, so I was going solo.  On my way out to the road, I stopped to dead head a few of the flowers in the beds along my way.  As I was plucking the seedpods from the columbine, I heard a commotion.  Inge and John had apparently gotten into some sort of difficulty.  A bike was down.  Two children were down.  And one was crying. 

I just watched for a bit before running to aid and abet.  I like to see if they will work it out on their own.  But the cry on this one sounded a bit intense, so I kept a close eye on the extraction process.  Inge's crying increrased and John was hopping around as though he was freaked out by her position.  Which of course freaked me out, so I hustled on down to the end of the driveway to check things out.

It didn't take much sluething to realize that Inge had gotten her foot in the spokes of the bike.  I asked John how it had happened and (poor little man) he said, "I was just giving her a sweet little bike ride."  He felt pretty bad about the whole thing. 

Inge probably felt worse.  Her lower left leg and foot had spoke shaped scuff marks all around.  There was one abrasion on the outside ankle bump thing (is that the end of the fibula?).  On the inside of the lower leg, there was a quite large swelling.  And that seemed to be the area of the most pain.

I hoped it was just a bruise, and figured Inge just needed some Mama time.  After a bit, she started complaining about the abrasion on the other side, so we put a bandaid on that, even though it barely needed it.  But she still did not perk up.  She just hung on me with her arms and sat limply with her lower body.  I tried to find ways to encourage her to go play, and she seemed eager to do so, until I would make moves to put her down.  Then she would have none of it.

About about half an hour, I moved with Inge outside to my front porch so we could enjoy the sunshine and watch the other kids.  Gradually I tried to interest her in what was going on around us.  Eventually, I set her down to see what she would do.  She seemed to have difficulty finding her balance, and then she leaned to take all weight off the sore leg and started crying again.

That's when I got uneasy.  I started imagining all sorts of growth plate injuries and that she'd end up with a permanenet limp and not be able to run and jump like the other kids.  Yes, I do realize that it would not be the end of the world.  That even with a permanent limp, she could still have a full life.  But it's our sinful nature to want physical perfection in our kids.  Yes, it is vanity.

What I ought to have done is pull out the Emily Rule.  The Emily Rule states that if you are still wondering whether or not to take your child in, it's probably not time yet.  When it's time, you will know.  But in my panic I forgot the Emily Rule.  It didn't help that we had a full day of obligations and I knew the clinic could see her at 11:00.  The Oklee clinic is very small and I'm never sure of its hours.  I didn't want to be caught having to run her into Fosston where we doctor if we couldn't get into Oklee later by the time I was sure

Joe chose the Oklee trip, since it was less driving.  But for that very reason, he had to load up all the kids.  He had the shortest trip to make, so he got the least economical vehicle.  And the van had the car seats for all the other kids. 

I hopped into the car to get Jeremy from Driver's Ed in Thief River Falls.  My trip was uneventful.

Joe's was also blessedly so.  He said that by the time he got Inge out of the car in Oklee, she was ready to put a little weight on her foot.  The nurse practitioner who was staffing the clinic yesterday palpated and articulated her ankle and foot.  Just a bruise!  No x-ray even needed.  What a blessing!  We were all very happy both for our Inge and for our budget.

Bitter Woes
Although much of the time I can ignore the disaster my homemaking is, there are some things that remind me more than others of my abject failure on that score.  And one of them is gathering the library books when it's time for our weekly trip.  I get all ornery and start hollering and complaining about how the books never get put away and we can nver find them when they are due.  I pull up the library web site and go through the list and on a good day, I might find 80% of the ones that are due. 

Yesterday was not a good day.  Yesterday I didn't have a clue where the vast majority of the books were.  Not a clue.  And I can't really blame the kids. 

I could say (and believe me, I do), "Put them back in the book box when you're done." 

But then they might say, "Where is the book box?" 

To which I might reply, "Who knows?  I saw it somewhere."

And then somebody might point out that the book box if full of other stuff that isn't put away correctly.  And then I might add that I think I saw the books in a different box somewhere.  And so it goes. 

I have a disaster for a house and when I try to gather books to return to the library, all my parental and home making inadequacies come crashing down around me.  I have no control over my kids.  I have no control over our books, toys, laundry, etc.  I don't know where anything is.  My entire life is a guessing game. 

"Where is the juice pitcher (or grater, or thermal coffee mug or can opener, or ...)?"

"It's supposed to be...."

"But it's not."

"Well, make a guess.  That's all I'd be able to do."

And it's the same with clothes or shoes or toothbrushes for the little ones.   There are too many little fingers taking things apart; and too many big fingers trying to put things away.  But each of us with big fingers has a different idea of how to define "away".  I'm not complaining.  I'm glad my kids help.  But it's a simple fact of my life that I'm no good at orchestrating this many different bodies.  But still I do it.  This is my vocation.  It's the life God has given me.  So no matter how disordered things are, He thinks it's OK.  He will not give me more than I can handle.  This is just the season of life throuh which I'm sailing.

And library day has a way of pointing it out to me big time.

Losing My Bearings
Eventually I got off to the library yesterday and had my agitation suitably soothed by a quick visit with my friend Laura, who is the Red Lake Falls librarian.  From there I had to make a quick stop at her home to drop off and pick up a few things.  Her daughter Clara was just heading out to milk their family cows, so we tried not to take up too much of her time.  But even the few minutes we had were a needed balm after my earlier stress.  Clara is a beautiful girl in every sense of the word, and her pleasant disposition always brings a smile to my face.

When I got home, Joe met me at the door, "I have good news and I have bad news, He said to me.  "The good news is you get a new washer.  The bad news is the bearings went out on the old one again."

By that time of the day, all I could do was cheer my fortune at the thought of getting a new washer.  Hurray!  The cup is half full!

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