Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fort Kn*x

     Gracie as a flower girl.  Could she be any cuter?

     Desperate times call for desperate measures.  This is what tired parents will resort to when they have a climber and they need to sleep.  If you look closely, you can see him in there.
     Here is a picture of Jackson when he was two.  He had white hair that would do NOTHING but stand straight on it's ends.  College kids thought he had the coolest hair!  When people see him who have not seen him in a long time, they will say, "His hair is so dark.  Did you dye it?"

     "Yeah, cause I have time for things like THAT!"

   Well, never believe me when I say that I am going to post the next day... which is what I said I would do on Sunday.   I might, but I wouldn't go betting large amounts of money on it.  I'd post more if all these people didn't live in my house... but then, what in the world would I talk about???

     So, the last time I posted, I mentioned my house being as secure as Fort Kn*x.  At least that's what Sarah said.  Who's Sarah you ask?

     Have I mentioned that in the last 3 years we have had 2 different girls live with us?  Darja is living with us now (2008-2009 school year) and Sarah lived with us in 2005-2006.  They have both done (or are presently doing) dietetic internships at a hospital near our house.  You'd think one of them could have given me some good advice on how to get skinny or something, but that's another topic altogether.

     Anyway, when Sarah lived with us, she called our house Fort Kn*x.  Actually, she said our house was more secure than Fort Kn*x.

     Allow me to explain.

     We have been living in our house 6 years in June.  And, in that 6 years, I can not begin to tell you the number of times people in our neighborhood have commented on the "weirdness" of the people who owned the house before us.

    I guess they were not only "interesting" people, but they were also paranoid.  Everyone is pretty sure there was a line item in their budget that allowed for a repairman of some sort to be at this house weekly, sometimes biweekly.  They left us a file folder bursting at the seams full of receipts and documentation.  Not only that, everything in the house was labeled.  Pipes in the basement were labeled hot and cold.  Vents were labeled so as to adjust for the seasons.  The garage door opener had a little piece of paper taped to it with the dates on which the batteries were changed.  We have the blueprints of the house.  We have drawings of the sprinkler head locations for the irrigation system, etc... This house came with a lot of bells and whistles.    And, you name it; it has some kind of documentation.  Don't get me wrong, some of this has been very beneficial to us.  HOWEVER, there is one line of service that I think they went a bit over the top.

     The home security system.  We noticed it when we moved here.  How could we not?  There was a keypad on the wall going out to the garage and there was a keypad in our bedroom.  The service had been terminated but something about the system still worked.  We could tell because a little red light blinked on the keypad when there was movement in the house. Numbers popped up on the screen when certain doors and windows were opened, etc....

     But, nothing could have prepared us for the way in which this system functioned.  I have seen home security systems.  There is some kind of indication when the security of the house has been compromised.  A loud beep, a siren... something loud enough to alert the family.

     Key words: alert the family.  The family needs to know.  The family needs to wake up and see if there is an intruder.  The family needs to get up and check to see if there is, in fact, a fire burning in their house.  The family and NOT the ENTIRE NEIGHBORHOOD.

     Nothing could have prepared us for that first October.  We had college students in our house for a pumpkin carving contest.  After scraping all the seeds out, one of the girls asked if she could bake the seeds.  While the seeds were baking, one apparently fell to the bottom of the oven and landed on the heating mechanism.  The smoke caused the fire alarm to go off.

   All of a sudden we hear a long, loud beep and then we hear a booming voice yelling:


     This repeated itself over and over and over.

    The students poured from our house with their hands over their ears.  Our children began crying hysterically.  And, Paul and I started panicking!!   

    The system wasn't monitored at the time, so the firemen were not going to show up.  The security company wasn't going to call us.  We certainly did not have the where with all to find the manuel.  

     Meanwhile, our neighbors had come over.  They were standing out with the students.... LAUGHING!!  Why? Because they can't help but to hear it!!  Plus, they'd heard it plenty of times before when Mr. and Mrs. Paranoid lived here.  NONE of them bothered to tell us this would happen.

     Paul and I were left to beat mercilessly on that keypad!  And, somehow, after what seemed like hours, by the grace of God, we hit some button or some combination of buttons that shut that forsaken computer generated voice up.

     It was after all the excitement that our neighbors lovingly showed us the MEGAPHONE attached to the roof of this house that will forever let EVERYONE in the neighborhood know EVERY time I burn something.


     We somehow managed to avoid setting that thing off again.  We managed until Jackson was about 18 months old.  

     You remember from the last post when I mentioned Jackson was a climber??  Well, the climbing started WAY before he was 18 months old, but when he was 18 months old, it was Christmas time.  And, since Paul always takes some time off around Christmas, we seem to always do some sort of home improvement project.  That year, it was painting.

   So, it happened that on Christmas morning, because we had been painting our room, we had a chair in our room pushed against the wall.   The chair happened to be right under the keypad of the security system.  Jackson, AKA THE CLIMBER, unbeknownst to us, climbed into the chair and pushed SOMETHING on the keypad.

    You can imagine the fear the four of us had when we were downstairs and all of a sudden we heard a very long, loud beep followed by:


     Of course Paul and I dash to the keypad to begin our beating of the keypad.  Meanwhile, the phone is ringing.  Paul left me to run to the phone hoping against hope it was someone who was going to tell us how to shut that voice up.  Instead, it was one of our neighbors saying, 

     "Don't you guys have enough to do over there??  It's Christmas morning!"

     Paul hangs (slams) the phone down.  As he was running back to help me, the phone rang again.
     It was another neighbor.  She was yelling, 

   " Free Santa!  Free Santa!!"

     Like we have him held hostage over here!  Come on!!!

    Again, we managed to get it turned off.  The next day I called the security company to come teach me how to work the system.  Who knew the trip out was going to rope me into some kind of a contract?  Oh well!  At least I could turn it off when needed.

     It was probably about a year after that when the system began going off in the middle of the night.  We would be in a dead sleep when the loud beep would signal.....
    " FIRE, FIRE, FIRE..............."

     The kids would come running in our room... sheet white, shaking and crying.  We'd turn it off, get them back to bed and then spend the next hour waiting for our adrenaline to quit pumping so we could go back to sleep.

     This happened on and off for several weeks until I got the bright idea that maybe I should call the security company and tell them.  They weren't calling us because we could turn it off quickly so they knew it was not a real emergency.  They came out to check, decided the main smoke detector was broke and installed a new one.

     The damage to our poor kids though, had already been done.  They were living in fear of the alarm.  We prayed for that alarm.  We cast the demons out of the alarm.  We spent hours explaining that it was there to protect us.  We showed them how it worked... but it was all to no avail.  The damage had been done.

     I knew the damage was severe one day while rehearsing some lines with Gracie.  Gracie was asked to be the flower girl in a wedding.  She was about 3 or 4 years old.  The bride and groom wanted her to walk down the isle and ring a bell.  While ringing the bell, they wanted her to say,

     "The bride is coming!!  The bride is coming!!"
    I thought it was unique and really cute.
    So, I was practicing with her one day and I said, "Ring the bell Gracie and say,  'The bride is coming! The bride is coming!'

     I gave her the bell and she began shaking it.  She said, "The bride is coming!  The bride is coming!  FIRE!!  FIRE!!!  FIRE!!!"

     The day of the wedding, as she walked down the isle ringing the bell, she uttered nary a word... probably because I laughed so hard the day she practiced.

    We are saving money for her counseling when she is older. 

     Signing off from the house more secure than Fort Kn*x,





Anonymous said...

OMG! I'm laughing my head off!!! A megaphone on your roof!! LOL! I thought we had it bad when the regular fire alarm goes off for no reason in the middle of the night... I'm telling you - you've got to write your memoirs - you'd sell a fortune! Have a great Friday!

Darja said...

i'm so relieved it wasn't you who labeled the vents! i always thought that was weird!

Gina said...

You forgot to mention the part about how when you first lived there you ALWAYS set the alarm at night and told your guests not to leave the top floor. Remember that??

Pam said...

I really am laughing out loud!!!

Jenney said...

Oh, tonight I have tears...wow.
Too bad that tree that fell in our lovely hurricane couldn't have had a branch reach out and carefully pull that megaphone off your roof!

FinsUp said...

That was too, too funny. I laughed, then when my coworkers wanted to know why I was laughing, I read it to them and they cracked up.

Thanks for keeps the lurkers amused!

Sharla said...

How on earth did I miss this post? I'm laughing so hard I'm going to wet my pants!! There is never a dull moment in your house my friend!!

Tony and Rett said...

OK, the free Santa and the firegirl, I mean, flowergirl, story just cracked me up!!

I'm ok with us NEVER getting together, you know. I mean, I'm sure something we'd do would end up in one of your posts!!!

Anonymous said...

HAHAHA! I so remember this... I also remember Todd and Paul spraying air in something to help "clean" it out so it wouldn't go off. I also remember being scared to death about walking around your house when I stayed there while student teaching - something about going from 2nd to
1st floor... Hilarious!!!

Chubby Baby Designs said...

oh I remember this all too well. It made my day to read about it and laugh and laugh :)

Claire said...

Ha Ha I know we all hear it when it goes off and really you can hear it from down the street it is so crazy!!!