Army Tales: I have tools, and I know how to use them

(When Shaun was retraining, I kept a private blog/journal of thoughts, figuring someday, I'd figure out what I wanted to do with it. I'm still not sure what I want to do with it, but some of the stories are too funny to not share, so I'll be posting them here sporadically. Most begin with excerpts from my letters/emails to him, followed by the whole story. It was a long 4 months. Trust me.)

Dear Babe:

You know that the various building shows that the boy likes? Well, I’m living that now. All the things that didn’t break or need to be fixed before you left have decided to break as soon as I no longer had a live in handyman.

Can we fix it? YES WE CAN! I am now a cross between Handy Manny and Bob the Builder, except I have a cute purse instead of a tool belt. And heels instead of work boots, but those kind of suck to climb ladders with.

Love, Me


When my husband headed out for several months, he tried to make sure everything was set so that I shouldn’t have any major things to do around the house, other than working on organizing and packing for our eventual move. We’ve got a guy to take care of the pool, a sweet friend offered to cut our lawn, and another friend is a mechanic and promised to be over at the first sign of any car issues. In theory, everything should go along just swimmingly until he returns home.

But, in the process of taking care of everything major, we did forget about a few minor details. One of the garage door openers went out. I managed to pry it open with a knife, not cut off any fingers, and replace the battery after a trip to Target where F&B had to play a fun game of “Match the little flat battery to the ones on display”. We had light bulbs go out, which I managed to change without electrocuting myself or shattering bulbs on the tile floors. I’ve managed to get the garbage out weekly, water the lawn and gardens, pay the bills, basically all of husband jobs around the house without any major mishaps. I’ve even built things with the kids for the fun of it.

This doesn't seem all that evil, but it is.

And then the noise started. Beep.

At first, it was intermittent. One beep here, one beep there. Here a beep, there a beep …

Then suddenly, everywhere a beep beep!

Oh yes, it was one of the many many many smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that are sprinkled throughout our home. And when one is beeping, it seems like the number of possibilities are infinite. With a bit of help from the girl, I finally narrowed it down to the two systems right outside my bedroom door. This is both good and bad. While, at least they aren’t located on one of the ridiculously high vaulted ceilings in Faith’s second floor bedroom, they are still located on a ceiling that I can’t reach while just standing on a regular chair. And they are really hard to ignore, considering I have to sleep in that room, so they must be changed as soon as possible.

I puzzle over this for a bit, then decide to bring in the ladder from the garage. Again, I enlist the help of my daughter, who announces that the ladder has cobwebs on the bottom, so she’s not touching it, but she’ll hold the door for me. That works, so into the house comes the cobwebby ladder. I set it up, kick off my heels and climb up. (What, did you think I’m crazy enough to climb a ladder in heels?) I stand with my head between the smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector and BEEP! I nearly fall off the darn ladder because it is really really loud up there. However, I am no closer to narrowing it down to one of the two devices, though I think I am now several steps closer to deaf.

Faith fetches me the last 9 volt battery in the house, and, since I can’t figure it out, I change out the smoke alarm first. All clear, and BEEP! OK, it’s not that one. I take out the new battery, put back in the old battery, and change the battery in the carbon monoxide detector. I start to climb down the ladder, and BEEP! So, I switch it again. BEEP! And again. BEEP! And press the reset button. BEEP BEEP BEEP! For the love of God, why will this noise not stop???

At this point, with only 25% of my original hearing left, I decide that it must be both devices and I need another battery. BEEP BEEP BEEP! We have none. BEEP BEEP BEEP! I find my heels, grab F&B (BEEP BEEP BEEP), get in the car (where there are finally no beeps), and drive to Target. I buy the extra large jumbo pack of 9-Volt batteries that cost more than a week’s worth of groceries, then head back home where I am once again greeted by BEEP BEEP BEEP! I set the ladder back up, kick off my heels once more, climb up, and switch out the batteries in both devices, all while losing another 10% of my hearing due to the consistent beeping.

Then, all of a sudden, blessed silence. There are no beeps here. There are no beeps there. There are no beeps anywhere. The house is actually quiet. And, by this point, it’s not like I have enough hearing left to really care if there are any other noises, just as long as there are no beeps.


  1. You are so good to not have just removed the offending devices until he returned. We have so many that I have been known to do that. And we also have the two device problem. Our Carbon Monoxide devices are dual but the smoke detectors are wired into the house so we could not remove them. Complete overkill. Glad you managed!

  2. I had a terrifying moment whilst au pairing in France, when the carbon monoxide detector started to beep and I was in the house on my own with the baby. The reason they had a carbon monoxide detector was that a few weeks ago, the boiler had malfunctioned and almost killed the entire family, so you can imagine that I was very much on edge and absolutely not leaving the baby in the house whilst I tried to sort it out. Only I wasn't leaving the baby on her own in the garden either... Thankfully it did turn out only to be a flat battery and not another poisoning episode but it was a terrifying moment.


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