Sometime before 5 in the morning on Friday I was awoken for the second day in a row to the sound of a smoke alarm complaining of a low battery. You know the sound a slow steady and yet oh so loud BEEP.......BEEP.......BEEP......BEEP.....David's reaction to this is usually to pull the offending alarm, remove it's battery thereby shutting it up, and go back to sleep. Sadly I am not as tall as Dave so even with the tallest stepladder in the house I can't reach the alarm. I took a deep breath and acknowledged that sleep was over and I might as well get up. I was more than a bit pissed because maintenance had been out the day before to look at the alarms and replace batteries after the beeping woke me up at 4:15 on Thursday. Turning on the light I was relieved to see the alarm was a little later today and it was almost 4:45 so that wasn't too bad. I was planning to make popovers for the kids last day of school before the holidays and needed to get up early anyway.
Popovers cooking, drinking a hot cup coffee in the quiet peace before the kids awoke I was feeling pretty good about myself. I had stayed up late making cupcakes for Grayson's party, slicing mounds of vegetables and making homemade ranch dip for Colin and Alonzo's parties. I had left the kitchen a mess the night before but that wasn't going to be a problem. I had plenty of time to clean the kitchen, take a shower, make cookies for the Christmas party at the ambassador's in the afternoon, and if all went well I would even have time to give myself a pedicure before Dave's plane landed at 12:30 so that my toes would be pretty at the party. Things did not go well.
It started off well enough. The popovers popped beautifully and the kids were happy to have their favorite breakfast treat on a school day. I managed to get everyone dressed and out the door with backpacks, water bottles, party treats, and 100 kwacha each to pay for being out of uniform. Yes the school makes you pay if you were civilian clothes on special party days, seriously.
I glanced at my watch it was now about 5 minutes before the bus should arrive. We were slightly ahead of schedule. I decided I had just enough time to call in to complain about the beeping. Yes the alarm was still beeping. BEEP....BEEP.....BEEP....after a bit you just tune it out, or go crazy, whichever. I told the kids to wait by the gate and I would be right out. I called the poor soul that mans the phones after hours for the umpteenth time in a week. I could almost hear him thinking "You again!" Dave goes out of town and everything breaks, usually after hours. While I was on the phone I hear a blood curdling shriek. Recognizing Alonzo's voice I ignored him because this child will scream like a banshee and swear he is bleeding to death from a paper cut so I figured if he was screaming he was still well enough to breathe and breathing is a good thing. Right?
By the time I hang up he has stumbled in the house and is laying on the floor sobbing. I look him over, don't see any blood, and he did make it into the house on his own power so he couldn't be hurt too badly. Right? Without a whole lot of sympathy I ask what's wrong and he sobs louder. If there are words in the sobbing I can't tell it. His brother appears to tell me he fell out of a tree. Big deep breath, I can feel my head trying to explode.
"Where are you hurt?" I manage to asks with out screaming "Why the BEEP were you up a tree when I said to wait by the gate?" although I promise you I thought it, loudly. He sobs something that might have been a word.
The bother chimes in "I think he broke his arm." Great, just dandy.
I manage to get him to stand up and stop sobbing quite so loudly. I ask if he wants to stay home and go to med to which he responds between gasping sobs "I d-d-don't want to m-m-miss the p-p-party." and to which I thought, but didn't say, "Then you should a stayed out of the BEEPing tree."
I tell him if he wants to go to the party he has to stop crying and go get on the bus which apparently arrived as he fell out of the tree and is now honking a bit impatiently. Can't really blame the driver there. I get the boy loaded on the bus and head back in for more coffee, I really need more coffee. That wasn't going to happen. About the time I finish stirring in the cream the doorbell rings. SIGH! I set the cup down without taking a sip and go see what's up. It's the guard telling me the bus is back. Of course it is. Alonzo is crying again and now no longer cares about the party. He wants to go to med. Great that means I will have to drive. I don't drive here, ever. The steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car, the cars are on the wrong side of the road. Toss in my total lack of a sense of direction, all the pedestrians, gas lines, minibuses, and non-working traffic lights and we have a problem Houston.
I call med to let them know what is up and then manage to get to the embassy with killing myself, the car, or any pedestrians. Whew. We meet with the folks at med who send us off to Partners in Hope for x-rays. Having never heard of this place nor having any idea where it is I manage to convince them it is important, that in the interest of not wrecking the car and creating more work for med, that I have someone from motor pool drive us. Good call! Motor pool drops us off. The x-rays are taken, payed for (with money I had to borrow from med), and processed. Film in hand I call motor pool to send a car to retrieve us and we head back to med. Med looks at the film and confirms the kid is broken. They are surprised he wasn't casted there and ask what the doctor said.
"Ummm....I didn't see a doctor, just the technician who took the x-ray. When he was done he gave me the film and said to go back so I did." Apparently I was supposed to see a doctor and misunderstood what I was supposed to do when he said "Go back" I was supposed to go back to the front desk or possibly go back to sitting in the chair in the waiting room, but I was not supposed go back to the embassy. CRAP!
Med quickly reassures it will be OK and then they spend a few minutes formulating a new plan. They also reassure me that they have contacted the management officer (MO) and the community liaison officer (CLO) who have made arrangements for my kids to go home with the CLO's kids so they will be fine after school. Not to worry.
The new plan is for me to go to ABC Clinic for casting. We call for another car from motor pool and are promptly told there are no drivers available. By this time I am thinking if I can just hang in there until 12:30 Dave will be home and I can have a nervous breakdown while he deals with all of this. I have never missed the ER at Methodist Children's Hospital so much in my life. One stop shopping for all you emergency needs.
After a quick call to the MO he manages to produce a driver and car from somewhere. I didn't ask where, but I almost wept in gratitude, and we are off. I meet with a lovely British doctor who reviews the films and talks to me and Alonzo about how we should cast this. Then we meet with the guy who actually does the casting. He has a different plan called a backslab. He and the doctor disappear for a bit and eventually reappear to tell me he will be getting a full cast to above the elbow. Ok that's great. At this point I just want it to be done so we can go home. The doctor leaves to see another patient and the guy doing the casting does a backslab cast anyway. This is just a piece of plaster that runs along the back of the arm like a splint and is held on by an ace bandage, it is not a full cast.
The doctor returns, takes in the situation, and decides that maybe this is fine. Alonzo needs to return on Wednesday anyway when the orthopedic doctor comes his visit to make sure all is well.
We are finally on our way back to way back to the embassy when I get a text from Dave. YAY! He's back! I tell him to meet me at the embassy. He tells me he is in Lubumbashi. WHERE??? He is supposed to be here NOW! How can I have a nervous breakdown if he isn't here to take over? Besides we have to be at a party at the ambassador's residence in like three hours, I am still at Med with a broken kid, I still need to make cookies, I've only had one cup of coffee today, I never did have breakfast, and I getting pretty light headed
Med finally releases us after feeding us both yummy granola bars from a personal stash. I manage to get lost between the embassy and the CLO's house which wouldn't be so bad, but it's not that far from the embassy, and she lives really close to my house. And still I managed to get lost. The kid in the backseat with the broken arm is the one who has to give me directions to get me unlost. When I said I had no sense of direction I wasn't kidding.
I walk in the house and my friend looks at me and ask if we have eaten. I say no and she starts cooking quesadillas even though she is in the middle of coordinating the Christmas party at the ambassador's residence that will take place in just over two hours. We all need friends like that! I inhale my quesadilla and so does Alonzo, I don't know that last time food tasted that good. I collect my children and manage to make it home with our getting lost again.
Fast forward two hours I have managed to unearth some snickerdoodles from the freezer, those will have to do for our cookie contribution. The kids are cleaned up to a level that is mostly presentable, and I am dressed and almost ready to go. I get a text from Dave saying he has landed, in Lilongwe this time, and should make it home in time for the party. Things are looking better. Finally.
We have a nice time at the party. Alonzo enjoyed showing off his war wounds. We sing carols and take pictures with Santa Claus. When we arrived at the party Dave handed me glass of wine and told me to relax. I did. When he noticed I was out of wine he handed me a cup of hot mulled wine and managed to keep that cup full the remainder of the party. Do you remember what I have to eat today? One granola bar and one quesadilla. Drinking on an empty stomach is a bad idea. Drinking on an empty stomach at a party at the ambassador's house is a really bad idea. I don't think I did or said anything too stupid, at least I hope not, I'm not exactly sure. If I did please don't tell me, I don't want to know. My head was really spinning when we left.
I thought the day was done with us. The kid was broken, my husband ended up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo when I needed him at home, I had to drive, and yet we had still made it to the party, even if I was a little drunk. We had survived. HA!
The day wasn't over yet. I sat down to send my mom an e-mail and realized three things:
- The alarm was still beeping and I never called to cancel the maintenance guys who probably showed up only to find I wasn't home and they were wasting their time. David fixed that by yanking the alarm down and removing it's batteries. Silence, blessed silence.
- The internet was down, nothing unusual in that, and hopefully it would be up soon.
- The computer was dead. The nice, relatively new iMac with the 21inch screen, the computer the kids use for homework, the computer we use for Skype, that computer was deader than a doorknob.
What a perfect way to end a perfectly crappy day, but we survived.