Stupid thing we did last night

Bat Saga

If you follow me on Twitter you could not escape the Bat Tweets today. I'm sorry. BUT YOU GUYS. The bat! It was ridiculous! It is STILL ridiculous. I cannot believe we arranged an entire day around, and my husband missed an entire day of work because of, a STUPID BAT.

Around two in the morning Phillip got up to investigate a noise in the bathroom. Silly me, I thought he was getting up to deal with the Insomniac Baby who starts talking to herself around two or three and doesn't stop for at least an hour. But no, he thought Jack had come upstairs to use OUR bathroom, but the noises were weird, so he got up - and then he was turning on lights and banging doors and I was all, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU CRAZY MAN."

He slams the door and looks at me. "So," he says. "There's a bat in our bathroom."

While Emma yammered in the background, we both Mulled The Implications. 

It wasn't in a place where he could trap it (hiding in a heap of bath toys) (which are now in the garbage) (ugh). If he shooed it out it could fly anywhere in our house. We didn't have a net or anything to catch it with. Besides, Phillip was afraid it would bite him. 

He left the lights on, both doors shut, got back in bed and began to Google. What else would we do?

The bathroom is a little weird - one end opens into the hallway and the other opens into our bedroom. It's the only bathroom on the upper floor AND it has a super high ceiling with a skylight. It's pretty if you ignore the cobwebs. Phillip assumed the bat somehow flew in from the attic? But how did it get in the attic? In the middle of the night he left messages for pest control services and in the morning I said, "Um, no, you aren't going to work today and leaving me with VERMIN ON THE LOOSE."

We used the bathroom downstairs. We told the kids the toilet was broken. I made Phillip sneak in and get my contacts, but otherwise we kept the doors shut. We didn't want to wait for anyone to call us back, so Phillip called again, and a man from Critter Control promised to be at our house between ten and noon. 

Twitter warned me that Vermin Catchers were chatty and the Bat Man did not disappoint. In the span of five or six minutes I learned everything I never wanted to know about bats. However! He located and caught the bat within minutes and duct taped it into a coffee cup he had in his truck. 

Why didn't you just get RID of it? you are asking. Throw it outside! Well, because the Bat Man made a Very Big Deal about getting it tested for rabies. It was that or immediately go to the clinic and begin the series of rabies shots for the entire family. The chance was low, he promised, but STILL. STILL. WHAT IF? These are your BABIES! AAAAUUUUGGGHHHH!

It sems like this is the sort of thing pest control should do FOR you, but no, we got to KEEP the bat. He left the bat on our PORCH. In its coffee cup HOUSE. (Well, first he checked out the attic and the roof and nope, no bat colonies here and OMG BAT COLONIEEEEEEEESSSSS.)

He told us to call Seattle Public Health. And this is where everything gets RIDICULOUS. 

Seattle Public Health was very sorry about our bat, but they didn't think it needed to be tested for rabies. Phillip demanded to know why not. Well there are requirements and restrictions for doing such testing and if we weren't DIRECTLY EXPOSED to the bat, there was no need. Phillip explained that we didn't KNOW if we were directly exposed. What if it  LANDED on one of the CHILDREN during the NIGHT and seriously, I was dry heaving as he had this heated conversation. 

Phillip and the SPH lady went back and forth and because she felt sorry for us in our Bat-Ridden Plight, she agreed that as it was found in the Master Bathroom which is technically part of the Master Bedroom, she could say it was "flying around in our room" and we were "directly exposed", but she'd have to the argue the point to her superiors and get back to us. 

Oh! And if they DID agree to test it, we would have to drive the bat to Kent (waaaaay south of us), have it humanely euthanized, and then drive to Shoreline (north of us) to have it tested. !!!

While we waited to see if they'd agree to test it, Phillip decided to call a vet and see if THEY could euthanize it. (I didn't know this part.) "Uhhhh..." they said. "Uhhhh...." Then they told him to call Animal Control. (WHY DIDN'T THE BAT MAN JUST TELL US TO CALL ANIMAL CONTROL.)

So! Animal Control said, "Hey, we'll euthanize your bat! AND we'll deliver it to Shoreline for testing!" Then they wanted our information and they'd call us back. Note: Animal Control? MUCH CLOSER THAN KENT. Note: I WAS UNAWARE OF THIS PHONE CALL. 

But. They never called back. Phillip sat around wondering what to do about our bat. I was ignoring this to the best of my ability, except for when I had something exciting to tweet. 

Then SPH called and said they agreed to test our bat. OH THANK YOU FOR THE LOVELY FAVOR, SPH. But we had to euthanize it first and deliver it to the lab "packaged properly". I do not have ANY desire to know what that means. 

Animal Control still hadn't called. (Note: I DID NOT KNOW THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO CALL.)

Around 3 Phillip decided that he better just drive the stupid bat to Kent so he'd have time to drive it back up to Shoreline before the lab closed. Me = still ignoring everything. Me = wondering why he can't go pick up Jack on his way to deliver the bat. Me = disbelieving that a bat, a MOUSE-LIKE BAT, has put a total stop to Cheung Daily Production.

Phillip left with the bat. Two minutes later I hauled the girls to school and fetched Jack. When we got home, Phillip's car was in the driveway. He was in the house talking on the phone. I stood at the top of the stairs and shouted, "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON PHILLIP CHEUNG!"

"Animal Control is coming to get the bat!"


"They're coming to PICK UP THE BAT!"

Oh you guys. This is so stupid. Animal Control didn't call Phillip, but Seattle Public Health DID, in the car, right before he got on the freeway, to tell him that Animal Control was coming to get the bat. How SPH linked up with Animal Control I AM STILL VERY CONFUSED ABOUT THIS. I was sort of stuck on the part where someone was driving across town to my house to pick up a half-dead BAT.


And it's not like it started to make sense after that. I know Phillip is reading this and dying to explain how SPH knew about Animal Control and he DID tell me but I'M STILL NOT CLEAR  BUT ANYWAY. Phillip had a half hour conversation with the Animal Control girl in our driveway, who was holding our bat in something that looked like an oatmeal cannister about three feet away from her body. GOD KNOWS WHAT THEY WERE DISCUSSING. But Phillip came inside and said he had to FOLLOW THE BAT. 


Apparently he had to give Animal Control twenty minutes or so to kill the bat, I mean Humanely Euthanize the bat, THEN he could go pick it up and take it to the lab in Shoreline. (They told him they would deliver the bat on the phone, but I guess they mixed that up with "we will pick up your bat from your house".) 

Meanwhile I am thinking: TAXPAYER DOLLARS AT WORK. 

So Phillip left again, a bit later, for Animal Control in Interbay (for you locals playing along) to pick up a dead bat. Then he made it to the lab in Shoreline at 4:55 PM, five minutes before it closed. 

All this to find out if a bat, which should not even be flying around in January, and did not come from a Bat Colony in our attic, and which is the size of a teeny mouse, which (we are fairly certain) was NOT flying around our house and landing on each individual family member in their beds, and living in an area in which rabies is not common, HAS RABIES. So that WE CAN KNOW THAT WE ARE NOT EXPOSED. 

I realize that rabies is a big deal. But this just seems wildly SILLY to me. Who knew that catching the bat would be infinitely easier than deciding what to do with the bat post-catch? 

So! Let us all fervently pray that this bat is not one of the lucky five percent that have rabies because OH GOD if I have to add "Now we're all getting rabies shots" to this blog post I'll have to also add a padded cell to my house. 

A Not Particularly Pinterest-Worthy Hot Chocolate Bar

Because Jennie asked: important information pertaining to the Cheung Holiday Extravaganza* Hot Chocolate Bar

This was my second year doing a hot chocolate bar, even though Dedicated and Forever Welcome Party Guests walked in Saturday night and went, "ooh! A hot chocolate bar! This is a great addition!" Sob

We tried to manipulate the, ah, flow? Of mingling? Guest traffic? this year and moved bars and tables around a bit. (Didn't really work. Oh well.) I have a dining table and three sidebar type cabinets (my favorite type of furniture, by the way, I love me a long counter with cupboards). That's four Food And/Or Drink Areas. (I actually need five.) Things were laid out like so:

  • food on the dining table
  • desserts on the dining room sideboard
  • wine, punch, non-alcoholic drinks on the living room sideboard
  • hot cocoa and coffee on the sideboard we moved against another wall in the dining room
  • the make-your-own cocktail bar on the kitchen counter (people are messy!)

And OBVS this was Pinterest-inspired, but I didn't try to copy any particular look. I didn't want to buy anything new serving things, mainly. (Well, "wanted" is not the right word. I didn't NEED to buy more.) Also it's sort of a lost cause, me attempting to copy a Look. Besides, once you know @ebj123 you sort of give up trying to win Prettiest Display.


Aaaand, this is the only picture I have of it. I have to say it looks pretty dull in that picture. But in person I think it was cute? I hung white sparkly snowflakes above it with fishing line (though this was a second choice - the marshmallow garlands were a big fat giant FAIL, also I HATE marshmallows FOREVER). Oh, and I wrapped the sides with wrapping paper because it's basically a shelf full of toy and junk storage and it looked messy to me. 

This year I added the coffee pot. I don't know. It seemed to fit. Options! So I had paper cups, a coffee pot, a big pump thermos full of hot chocolate (the Ghirardelli mix - last year I made it from scratch and WHYYYY?), cream, sugar, and stir sticks. For toppings I put mini marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, and crushed candy canes in ice cream glasses, and a ton of whipped cream in a bowl. I also put out a little bucket (from last year's Target dollar section) of Pirouette cookies and some chocolate covered peppermint sticks from World Market. I know I had more toppings last year, but I didn't knock myself out too much this year. (This was actually this year's theme: Do Not Feel Exhausted BEFORE The Party Even STARTS.) 

I think it was okay? The marshmallow garlands would have looked awesome hanging in that space, but I seriously couldn't get them to work. I guess I could have spent a hundred years doing it and getting my entire house sticky in the process, but it wasn't worth it. Stupid marshmallows. (Apparently I'm not going to let this go easily.)

I also bought some red and aqua clip art frames on Etsy (I LOVE BUYING ETSY CLIP ART!!!) and made a label for everything. Which got me lots of lovingly snarky comments, but I don't care, that sort of thing makes my heart go pitter pat. 

So, uh, that's it? We made the cocoa in a big pot on the stove and somehow someone poured it into the thermos. I believe I was putting on eyeliner at that point. And the thermos I bought on Amazon last year for $20 something. 

Here is the punch and wine bar, featuring the Craigslist cabinet I bought last year and painted white. I suppose this is the Very Much After picture?


Dessert table:


Where you make your Christmas cosmo:


Food table minus the stuffed mushrooms which were still in the oven, and the lumpia and gyoza, which hadn't yet arrived, which is the only thing worth eating that isn't a cookie (IN MY OPINION. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY COOKIES I HAVE LEFT OVER? SOOOOO MAAAAANY.)


Here are the representatives of the Seattle Chapter of Bloggers Who Sometimes Peel Themselves Away From Their Beloved Laptops


I have an ADORABLE picture of my little sisters, but sometimes they don't like it when I put their pictures on the internet. YOUR LOSS.

Of COURSE there is no picture of Phillip and me. NONE. EVER. THERE ARE NEVER ANY PICTURES OF US TOGETHER. I only have this stupid one of me and my Santa star pillow, and all I hear is my mother's voice saying, "GET THAT HAIR OUT OF YOUR FACE."


Tomorrow I buy a ton of tins and plasticware to box up the multitudes of cookies for neighbor and teacher and Random Friend On Whom I'd Like To Unload gifts. I cannot have this stuff in my house anymore. CANNOT. Fudge is not an appropriate breakfast food! At least not every day!


*sometimes I reeeeeally want to write about our party and party stuff and decorating and food and how much fun it is to buy Etsy clip art and make dozens of perfectly coordinated labels, but then I realize 1) I sound like a nutcase and 2) I start referring to it as the Cheung Holiday Extravaganza and 3) I suspect the majority of party guests only show up to humor me, and because many of them 4) read this blog I also suspect they are 5) secretly scoffing at any party-related post SO. THAT'S THAT.

Party Post-Mortem

Last night I hosted a ladies-only murder mystery party and I don't think it went very well and I've been fuming about it ever since. 

The regular party details - food, drink, excellent guests - were in fine form. So at least there is that. I was not embarrassed to serve the pizzas and meatballs and caprese bites and other "Italian-ish" fare (the mystery was set in Venice) that was actually cooked by ME, and dudes, I MUST recommend this punch: 1 can limeade, 1 2-liter bottle of Sprite, a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream and raspberries. I pretty much had my face in the punch bowl the whole time. 

And my friends... oh, my friends are so lovely. I just think all of them are the bee's knees. Because the MYSTERY part of the party was a DUD and they played along anyway.

So the MYSTERY... okay, so I could only find games for up to 6 or 8 people in stores, but there were downloadable games for many more party goers. I was expecting about 12, and between the number of guests, the fact that we were all women, and the relative professional-ness of some of the download sites, I ended up picking this Venetian masquerade game. Also because my parents are in possession of tons of Carnevale masks (they used to buy one on every trip to Venice, SIGH) and I thought those would make good decorations. (And I can sort of pull off Italian food.)

But it wasn't very good. It was poorly written. It was full of typos. Sometimes it mixed up character names. There was way too much reading aloud. It was not entirely intuitive when it came to what you were supposed to share with the group and what you should keep hidden. Also there were a couple of riddles and puzzles and they were silly. The one where the answer to a riddle looking for a "ferocious beast" was PIGEON was probably the Height of Party Hilarity. (I wanted to die. Of course.)

It was confusing and awkward to get started, and because of typos and character mix-ups and poorly written-ness it continued to be somewhat confusing and awkward. EVEN THOUGH my sister and I had gone through the entire mystery so it would go as smoothly as possible. I separated out all the chapters and pieces of "evidence" and thought about how to work around an incredibly stupid puzzle at the very end. Thank goodness for my sister, who played her Crime Investigator role to a T and several of my friends whose tombstones will eventually read EXCELLENT PARTY GUESTS, but I was still disappointed and the ending felt a bit incomplete and BAH. Failure! 

Here I will again bust out my enneagram mumbo jumbo and say: I AM A THREE. I need to succeed. If I fail, no one loves me. And here I had invited a bunch of people who had never been to a mystery party before and now they would NEVER GO TO ONE AGAIN. Especially one thrown by me! OH THE HORROR. No really, I stewed about it all night and stewed about it all day. 

Then tonight I was fixing dinner for the kids and getting the table and ready, and oh, what's this? A stack of papers? That look like they were not used? A stack of papers that say CHAPTER FIVE CLUES? Hmm. OMYGODDIDIFORGETAWHOLECHAPTEROFCLUES???

If you know anything about me you know that it is taking a MASSIVE amount of character for me to admit to this Abect Screwup on my personal website, in front of God and Country. The mystery was not entirely to blame. IT WAS ALSO ME. And not just because I picked a dud of a mystery! I am not even kidding you, when I saw that stack of clues I thought I would crawl under a rock and never ever ever come out. 

So! I highly recommend throwing a mystery party and leaving out a good chunk of the mystery as a way to feel like the lowest class of moron. I read through the clues and yes, a lot of our issues at the end of the story (possibly all the parts where we were like, "Hey! I didn't know that about myself!") might have been worked out, it was still confusing what you were supposed to share and keep hidden. Either way: I AM SO SORRY, PARTY GUESTS. I owe you all about two hours back. I have punished myself by sitting around wondering what sorts of things you are saying about my crappy mystery party to your husbands. MOAN.

That said, it was a "learning experience" (that's my mom talking, who I had to call today to vent, obvs) and here is what I've learned:

1. I LIKE the cheesy murder mysteries with the silly names and sillier costumes. This one advertised itself as being a mystery that people wouldn't feel dorky about, but honestly, that's a part I ENJOY. I once threw one of these for my siblings on New Year's Eve several years ago and we STILL laugh about the picture of us in costume - me in a Marilyn Monroe wig, my sister in a French maid outfit, my brother wearing a vaguely pedophile-ish mustache. I think it's more fun to "own" a certain character, instead of this mystery which was more a bunch of socialites gathering for a masquerade, with nothing in our dress to make us funny or distinguish us from each other.

2. I suspect it might be more fun with fewer people. Maybe not. Maybe if I'd picked a good one I'd say the opposite. But it was difficult to "question" each other in a large circle. We were SUPPOSED to be walking and mingling, but again, the way the clues were written, it wasn't very intuitive and I'm not sure mingling would have worked. I don't really KNOW, but it just seemed that way at the time.

3. More drinking might have helped.

4. No reading aloud! I mean, there has to be SOME reading aloud, but because you weren't ever quite sure what you were supposed to be saying (POOR WRITING) a lot of us eventually ended up just reading off our clues. Eh.

Anyway. My INSTINCT, as a THREE, is to immediately plan a follow up party, a REDEMPTION if you will, to prove myself as a party thrower and murder mystery games as actual fun. But, ah, I realize normal people are not so obsessive. And they probably wouldn't attend anyway, having already been through one of THOSE before...

I think next time (OF COURSE THERE WILL BE A NEXT TIME) I will buy one in a box from the store, as it seems it might have gone through an editor or two to be printed out and put in a box. Yes? But even then, it's not like you get to read the whole mystery ahead of time. Even my first successful party had a sort of stupid ending. We just didn't care! 

BLAH BLAH BLAH whatever it's over and YAY PEOPLE I KNOW because if nothing else, I got to have all my favorite girls around eating cake. THE END.



In which my weekend put me in that Let's Sit And Talk For Hours About WHO WE ARE MEANT TO BE! kind of mood

I had a fantastic weekend and I'm going to tell you all about it. 

First I got my hair cut. Again. I went to a different salon, I said, "I just have too much HAIR back here" and all the hair that was giving me the Very Short But Still Sort Of A Bob effect was promptly razored off. Which is exactly what I wanted. I'm now feeling all the things I didn't feel the first time I went in, ie: OMG WHAT HAVE I DONE. I mean, I love it. But I'm also extremely aware that it will take yeeears to grow it out. So even if I didn't love it, I would decide to love it. But I do love it. So there.

Second, I went to this thing at Seattle University, a Jesuit college, called The Spirituality Book Fair. Or Festival? I forget. It was advertised in my church bulletin, but all I really saw in the ad was the name ANNE LAMOTT and obvs I had to be there.

I really had no idea what to expect. The schedule included dozens and dozens of authors speaking on dozens and dozens of topics. The one I really wanted to attend was called something like Pious Trash: Writing About Faith For A Secular Audience, but more than anything I wanted to see Anne Lamott give the keynote address. I've loved her nonfiction books (I haven't read her novels) and I thought she was hilarious and brilliant when I went to one of her readings last spring. She is also my High Priestess Of Writing Advice and I'm just really encouraged and inspired by the things she has to say about not just writing, but the kind of person a writer is. For example, being a highly strung neurotic person may actually help. WAHOO!

Anyway, my friend Beth went with me (HI BETH!) and it was just awesome. Awesome! Even though we only attended 1) the Anne Lamott keynote and 2) a session called Spiritual Intimacy, which Beth picked out by the way, and during which I pretty much wanted to die a thousand invisible deaths. We would have seen more, but we spent most of our day in a fabulous French cafe eating a weeks' worth of calories. Totally worth it.

So I didn't see as much as I wanted, but I enjoyed just being in the hall with the book tables. I just loved the VIBE. Not in the Spiritual Intimacy session, ha ha, but the whole event. It was jam packed full of people interested in the kinds of things I'm interested in. I am very fond of Middle-Aged Leftwing Activisty And Maybe A Little Bit Strident Christian Ladies, and their ranks were flush. There were Roman collars and yarmulkes and head coverings and tables heaped with books and bookish people milling about, drinking coffee, talking about The Search For Meaning. 

That was ostensibly the topic of Anne Lamott's speech, but she more or less rambled on for an hour (a wonderful hour), just sort of talking about the kind of people we are. You know, the people in that room. The people who are interested in talking about The Search For Meaning and why we are the way we are and the things we do to move forward. She often used writing as an analogy, which of course I lapped up like a wide-eyed puppy. "If you think writing is your calling, your spiritual calling, and you're not doing it right now, one day you'll be eighty years old and you'll wake up and be heartbroken." That was, ah, rather convicting. 

She talked about how no one wants you to be a writer. When you tell people you're going to write, no one says, "Oh good! Wonderful!" It's in no one's best interest, in the same way being a pilgrim, embarking on a search for a higher power in your life, is in no one's best interest. It's not going to make anyone's life easier. If you want to write, according to Anne Lamott, you must waste a lot of time, a lot of paper, and stare into space. Same thing with looking for God. One thing she said really hit me: if you live this way, you might not achieve all the things you want to achieve. Things like earning a lot of money, climbing corporate ladders, getting published, becoming famous in some way. Things that often require a singular focus you can't necessarily give. 

There was a way that she sort of befriended the audience, knew that we were her people. She talked a lot about her plight as an "overly sensitive" child and assumed a lot of us were as well. She talked to us like she knew who we were, and since I was already feeling the Vibe, you know, I felt clued in. In some ways I felt like she DID know me. I felt I was part of a group of survivors. People who were familiar with The Abyss, as AL put it, and for whom God was real and large and present. 

Afterwards I was trying to describe to Beth what I so admire in AL's words and manner of speaking, and then Beth said, "She is comfortable in her brokenness." And that is so TRUE. That is exactly what I latch onto. It's not about shocking you or preaching or impressing or competing, it's this sort of matter-of-fact there but for the grace of God go I

I've given a lot of thought to writing, and the kind of writing I want to do, this weekend, and while I haven't come up with any big thoughts or decisions or realizations, I do know that I want to write about brokenness. Not in sappy or judgmental or preachy or know-it-all or super intellectual or even well-written ways, but just matter-of-fact. That this is who I am, and I know it, and I am as comfortable as I can be in it, and I can see my Abyss, but I am a pilgrim too, and there but for the grace of God go I. 

APPARENTLY I should have posted this on the Catholic blog. WHATEVS! And all of it reminds me that I have to respond to a churchy email from a beloved reader... seriously, if YOU want to send me churchy emails I EAT THEM UP. Perhaps certain people are too busy earning money and going to school and meeting with professors on Sunday afternoons to spend much time Discussing The Meaning Of Life with me. ALAS. 

Oh and THEN we totally invited ourselves over to Liz and Bubba's place for football watching, which is hilarious because 1) I know next to nothing about football, neither do I care 2) my kids are always little pests at their house 3) it just ENCOURAGES my husband to sit on the couch and eat and ignore me and 4) their TEAM was in the GAME. So I had to actually ROOT FOR A TEAM, when what I really wanted to do was finish off Liz's freaking amazing dip while writing snippy letters to the NFL powers that be re: Hair Guidelines. I mean, what was coming out of some of those helmets?! Yuck! And let's not talk about that quarterback's beard. SHUDDER.

Deck the halls with plastic cups and cocktail napkins

We've thrown a Christmas party every year we've been married (except for last year when the FPC got married in December and we threw a replacement St. Valentine's Day Massacre party in February, which was kick ass, if only because I got to dress up like a flapper) and I love everything about planning it except the RSVP situation. Every year I spend the weeks leading up to our party in various states of despair about no one showing up because for some reason People In General have this really annoying aversion to the words RSVP. This year, however, the Gods of Party Throwing took pity on my frustrated cries because DUDE. Practically everyone RSVPed and practically everyone was in. Which meant I spent the weeks leading up to THIS party in various states of despair over not enough space/not enough food. 

I couldn't really do anything about the space, but I definitely went overboard on the food. I bought heaps and heaps of things for forty-seven different kinds of appetizers. I even ordered cupcakes and savory puff pastries from the FPC. I spreadsheeted and listed and strategized and timed and drew up an Order Of Oven Events which I had to hide from everyone lest they LAUGH. 

I managed to get it all the food out ("I" in this case meaning "with the help of two sisters and at least two friends") in a timely-ish manner. And I thought it looked nice. It even looked edible, though I have no idea how anything tasted since I didn't eat a single bite. By that point none of it appealed to me. I was so tired of thinking about food and worrying about food and MAKING FOOD that I was all about my plastic cup of wine and being out of the kitchen. The thing was, I fully intended to refill the plates. I had more than enough (WAY more than enough) ingredients for several more rounds of bruschetta and flank steak and dips and all that, but... yeah. So the kitchen was constantly full of people, meaning not a lot of room to make more food, and (this is the real reason) I WAS HAVING FUN. Inconsiderate hostess! Bad party thrower!

Way back when I would have said that I liked hosting parties because I could be social while also having an escape. Like running into the kitchen to grill more bruschetta bread when I got overwhelmed by my ineptitude with small talk. But now I would say I like hosting parties because everyone who comes is my FRIEND and I get to talk to ALL OF THEM. What's happened to me?! Didn't I just write a cranky post about being introverted?! Did I really get frustrated at my own party because I didn't get to spend quality time with EVERYONE?!

ANYWAY. All that to say: I have tons, no really, TONS of food left over. I have enough booze to host five more years of Christmas parties. I have more wine than I started with. I still have boxes and boxes of cookies in my freezer and I have open bags of candy and I have nothing else to eat except party food because no one considered buying REAL groceries... I will be FORCED to eat cookies for breakfast! I bet the kids are going to be SO unhappy when I feed them M&Ms for lunch!

But next year? I think next year I am going to have the FPC cater the whole thing. I mean, I had to respond to ninety-five percent of the food compliments with, "Well, my SISTER made those, not ME" so why not? Also I live amongst a surplus of college students and I think some of them might like to make an extra couple of bucks passing trays of canapes and small bites between thirty-somethings who have to get home by eleven to relieve the babysitter. The more I think about this the more I think it is the best idea ever. 

Also, I had a two-year-old sleeping on my bed the entire time. I made sure to make plenty of obnoxious comments about Appreciating What You Have to her parents. 

Also, we picked up the kids from my parents' tonight and at 10:03 PM they are both still awake. Wah.

Also, my husband is a last minute grocery shopping, furniture moving, picture taking, whole house vacuuming, knows how to read a room SAINT. 

My First Episode of COPS

You know what is IRONIC? Experiencing your first Police Car Flashing Lights Pull Over Situation as you are driving home from your Can You Please Give Me Crazy Pills Doctor Appointment. You'd think the police could have given me the two to six weeks (depending on who you ask!) for the crazy pills to kick in before they pulled that stunt, am I right? 

I am undecided on how much I want to say on the meds front. I thought it depended on whether or not I would go around telling real life people, but as I've pretty much told everyone I see on a regular-ish basis (sorry Real Life People, I cannot help myself with the oversharing), that doesn't seem to be the issue. So maybe it is how much you are interested in this not terribly mommybloggish aspect of life, or maybe I just have to figure out a way to talk about it that isn't constantly justifying the decision. There are parts of it I want to write up for the Catholic blog, at least. And all that said, I am still undecided on when I am even going to take them. For all intents and purposes I should start tomorrow morning. But I don't know. I'm feeling pretty good right now and that is without having had my nightly glass of anxiety wine and so I JUST DON'T KNOW. 

So let's chat about the police, shall we? I got my license the summer after my freshman year of college and I have been terrified of being pulled over ever since. I drove like the Oldest Lady On Earth and now I drive like Not Quite The Oldest But Still Fairly Old Lady On Earth. I am constantly surveying the cars in the rearview mirror for cops. I hardly ever speed. I take great care with my signals and lane changes and stops. Possibly this is because I have no idea what the "registration" part of the "license and registration" spiel means. Possibly because I am a Highly Anxious Person and I was pretty sure that if I ever got pulled over I would have fourteen panic attacks and die. Nearly all of my anxiety triggers have to do with me doing something WRONG and what is better evidence of having done something wrong than FLASHING LIGHTS and SIRENS?!

I was sitting at a red light and a police car pulled up behind me. "Gee," I thought to my stupid self, "I sure hope my tabs are up to date! Ha ha!" And then I 1) signalled correctly 2) did not speed 3) changed lanes correctly and when 4) the police car suddenly turned on his lights (but no siren) I thought: DAMN YOU, TABS. 

Since there was no shoulder on this particular stretch of road it was a ways before I could pull over. Which was embarrassing. I mean, when I see a cop car about to pull someone over I always try to get a glimpse of the perp. That wrongdoer! Bad! So anyway, I pulled over and oh so calmly pulled out my license and, this is the best part, my INSURANCE CARD because SURELY that is what "registration" means, right? 

I thought I would cry or hyperventilate or, at the very least, feel really really REALLY super bad and guilty for having done something WRONG. But no, I just sat there blowing my bangs out of my face and thinking, "Well @#@*%@." 

Then the cop came up and I rolled down my window and it was SO television-esque I started internally blogging that minute. And the cop was cute! What a bummer! I gave him my license and insurance card and he said, "Uh, do you have your registration" and THAT, my friends, is when I hauled out the nervous-sounding "uhhhh I've never been pulled over before!" as I flipped open the glove compartment and (THANK GOD) extracted the one single piece of paper available to me: the registration document. (THANK GOD.) I mean, it wasn't like I was even TRYING to get out of something. It just CAME OUT. What a moron. 

Then I sat there for freaking EVER while the cop... I don't know. Ran me through the Computer of Felons? Wrote down all the personal details on my license? (THAT IS NOT MY CORRECT WEIGHT, BY THE WAY.) Laughed about me to the dude in the front seat of his car wearing normal person clothes? (WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT?) I don't know. I sat there texting Phillip because hey, where are our tabs? Oh, and then I started to feel SLIGHTLY guilty because I told the officer that we had "just moved" and when I really thought about it, we moved in APRIL which was kind of a while ago, at least long enough for us to have tabs that are not three months expired. So maybe I got a LITTLE anxious about whether the cop thought I was trying to Pull One Over. Except, I'll just let all the cops out there know: I am not skilled enough to pull one over on anyone. Ever. I am the worst liar on EARTH. 

Anyway. I know this is not that interesting to you, but I was just sitting there feeling like DUDE! Look at me being all Cool In A Crisis! Which reminded me of that time when I was incredibly anxious, like way back in the beginning when I could have used a handful of Valium nearly every day, and Phillip was so distracted and upset about everything he clipped the car in front of us trying to get into the other lane. And you know what happened? My anxiety DISAPPEARED and I was all "CALM DOWN. THIS IS WHAT WE DO. IT'S OKAY. THINGS ARE FINE." Like, SUPER COOL. I don't know. I am all kinds of out of whack. 

Finally the cop came back and was reeeeeeeeally nice (perhaps because I did not show up in the Computer of Felons?) and told me that I needed to fix this little issue lest I get myself a ticket NEXT TIME. And then I drove home. The end. 

Oh wait. Then I had another Super Average Day that was just the tiniest bit more shouty and annoying than yesterday, complete with Totally Disgusting Tub Floater and Crabby, Incoherent, Unnapped Two-Year-Old, but for some reason I did not feel the need to weep when I put both kids to bed and am currently feeling downright CHEERFUL. I don't know. "Obviously," you are saying to yourselves, "she should take the meds ASAP." SIGH.

How do YOU feel about candy corn?

The kids are in bed, the wine is poured, the husband is hanging out at the Genius Bar praying for his laptop. You guys are going to find this So Amusing: that stupid computer game overheated his beloved MacBook and now it might be dead. One of you totally called this and you win a lifeless laptop and all the candy corn. 

(I hate candy corn.) 

(I am, however, giving the candy corn credit for the fact that we had no potty accidents today. Does candy corn work where stickers don't? Who knows?!) 

But today was notable for other things than computer crashes and improvements in potty training. First of all, I thought of an actual ACTIVITY I could do with my kids. Which is good, you know, since all our friends have preschool on the days when we don't have preschool OR they have moved way far away and will probably, slowly, and with profound relief, drop us from their playdate circle (WOE) and I have to find things for us to DO. We can't go to the zoo EVERY day. I hate the zoo almost as much as I hate candy corn.

I bought this little hanging ghost kit at Target the other day. Now, I know that you can make your OWN ghosts, with a box of Kleenex and a Sharpie and maybe some dental floss to string them from the ceiling, but the Target ghosts already had their faces printed on little white plastic bags and I thought: HOW CUTE. The package said to stuff them with newspaper or leaves, and since there are plenty of leaves on the ground in our neighborhood, I thought it'd be fun to give the kids a plastic shopping bag and let them pick up as many leaves as their little hearts desired. 

Of course, most of the leaves were wet, which was gross, or the kids really wanted to pick up GINORMOUS leaves, which aren't so conducive to making tiny ghosties, or they wanted to pick up pinecones and sticks... whatever. I didn't care. We just had to get out of the house and appreciate the gorgeous fall sunshine and KILL TIME. It's terrible that some days I'm only out to kill time, but that's how I think of it. Kids pick up leaves, I kill time. 

So the kids picked up leaves while I admired all the houses I'll never be able to buy and we came home and made our ghosts. I should say that the kids ate lunch while I made ghosts because the whole leaf thing wasn't really working. Also it was kind of dirty and gross. So after a few attempts I just pulled off a bunch of paper towels, let Jack crumple them up, and we stuffed the ghosts. Then I wrapped twist ties around their necks and from their heads and we all went out the front door to watch Mommy hang the ghosts from the tree and the porch and the lamp and maybe the half dead rose bush. 

It was actually pretty fun, since the kids were rather particular about where I hung the ghosts, and they looked pretty neat and I started to wonder if we'd get any trick or treaters on our busy street, maybe I should prop open the gate with a jack o'lantern, what about lights? I should totally string some lights and before you knew it I was one of those people who turn their entire front yards into graveyards/haunted houses SOMEONE STOP ME. (Okay, this was only in my brain, but still.) 

And then I looked up and the front door was shut. And my brain went: Oh @#!$. 

I ran up the steps, tried the door: it was locked. 

I ran around back and tried the basement door: locked. 

I ran up to the kitchen door, saying Oh %&*$ Oh (*@$ Oh #$%& and yep: locked. 

Then I went and sat on the front steps of the house and thought about what to do. 

Our neighbors don't have a spare key. (We've met all of one neighbor, which depresses me so, that's another post.) We haven't hidden a spare key, mostly because we only recently found all the spares we made a few months ago and hadn't got around to it. My sister in Seattle doesn't have a spare key, for the previous reason. The only extra key I could think of was at work with Phillip. 

A little bit earlier I'd noticed that some dude was over at the house next door painting the trim. I was pretty sure all my other neighbors were at work (I watch them leave from my kitchen window every morning) so I shut the kids inside the fence, ran over to the guy next door and asked if I could borrow his phone. He quite cheerfully and sympathetically let me borrow his phone and I had to dial Phillip a few times before he answered, and then he grumpily agreed to take a taxi to the house and let us back in. 

(It was just past lunchtime and you know who was going to need a nap. Someone else really needed to check her email.) 

So. THAT was embarrassing. Phillip ended up borrowing a coworker's car so he was here within minutes, but still. Getting locked out is one of my Prime Fears. It happened several times at the old house, but our neighbors had keys and my sister lived down the block. I'm SUPER conscientious about keeping the doors unlocked when the kids are outside, or if I'm going back and forth between the garage or the garbage cans. USUALLY! And the car is a whole other matter - my biggest most-likely parent fear is locking the kids in the car with my keys. I am completely OCD about checking the Key Location when I'm getting them in and out of the car. 

But, uh, all defenses were down today. I guess. I did hide a spare key. I am not telling where. 

The ghosts are cute!

And Phillip is home and he wants everyone to know that 1) his laptop's injuries are critical, but not life threatening and 2) treatment will be free! Something about a fried video card that's still under warranty? Here I was prepared to say all manner of obnoxious things about the GENIUS bar, but a free fix for a three-year-old REFURBISHED laptop's not bad.

It's been a good day, and there WILL be preschool in the morning. 

In the meantime: I'm asking for advice about babysitters at Parenting tomorrow morning/today. I would REALLY appreciate any thoughts or insight or suggestions or ideas or WHATEVER to make our first date night with a real not-family babysitter go smoothly this Saturday!

A really excellent way to end your actual anniversary day

You know what's hot? Sending your husband out for... how shall I put this on a Family Website?... FOOD POISONING COMBATANTS on your actual anniversary day. HOT. I should be out with friends right now (isn't that how you celebrate YOUR actual anniversary day?) but no, instead I am wearing bright blue pajama pants and my volleyball team t-shirt and running to the bathroom on ten-minute intervals. So why not write a blog post in between! YOU ARE WELCOME!

I am blaming Orange Julius. I didn't eat anything out of the ordinary today - toast, granola bars, my kids' lunch leftovers and my mother-in-law's stirfry dinner - EXCEPT for the random strawberry banana Orange Julius to which I treated myself at the mall in my in-laws' town this afternoon. This is a horrible mall, you guys. For one thing, it used to be carpeted. I don't know why that squicks me out so bad BUT IT DOES. For another, there is not one single store I want to shop at, with the exception of a Target that they sort of plunked down at the end of the mall. Obvs I needed a treat. And since I usually have to SHARE my Orange Julius with someone who shall rename nameless but is currently out buying embarrassing supplies at the grocery store, I was excited to have one all to myself. OH THE STUPIDITY! 

Oh, and can I just say that my kids were a full on NIGHTMARE today? DEAR GOD. They stayed with Grandma and Grandpa Sunday night (those would be my parents) and when I picked them up this morning we drove directly to Nai Nai and Ye Ye's house (those would be Phillip's parents) because we always see them on Mondays. With the exception of some not-wanting-to-go-to-bed and a brand new baby monitor that mysteriously transmits a late-night Spanish language radio program, my parents said the children were angels which is what they ALWAYS say. 

Of course, they were shocking little BEASTS at Nai Nai and Ye Ye's house. Well, I wasn't around for the first couple hours, as I was running errands and cheerfully slurping up an elixir of Your Evening Plans Are Good And Ruined at the mall, and then when I got back both kids and both grandparents were playing outside. Which means I got to read my new book, totally unawares of a future involving 1) beasts and 2) impressive and near-instant weight loss. 

But later on Jack was out of control. Like, CRRRRAZY. This kid is a master manipulator, Internet, and as soon as I had him corralled on one issue he was well on his way to another. Luckily for him he has a mother who is constantly second guessing herself which means he has puh-LENTY of time to formulate his next round of misbehavior. He pitched himself off a chair today, Internet. LANDED ON HIS HEAD. Wouldn't eat. Wouldn't sit down. Was going to whine us all to DEATH. And the whole time I kept telling myself to cool down, because OBVS he was tired. Right? Right? (He IMMEDIATELY fell asleep in the car when we left, so yes, I was right, but I still think he deserved an hour or two in solitary confinement with a large block of ice for a chair.)

And MOLLY. You guys, ever since we got back from Hawaii she has been super glued to my midsection. Sometimes I can pry her off and get her happy with someone else and she forgets. But the minute she sees me it's MAAWWWWMEEEE! MAWWWWWMMEEEEE! and too bad if I want to get anything done that day! This is also our baby who has always gone to sleep by herself, never needed the drawn out routines that her brother must have every night, even ASKS for bed and practically DIVES into it. But ever since our trip we are having the hardest time getting her to bed at night. She whines and whines and we hold her because CIO was never the answer with her. It takes FOREEEEEVER. We would like the pre-Hawaii Molly back, please. 

Right now my husband, after putting the children to bed and fetching my "supplies", is taking all the garbage out. SAINT. Would you like more evidence? He bought me the cutest little bag for our anniversary - I can't find a picture of it online, but visualize this in blue. And the Bare Escentuals eye makeup kit was inside it because he read about it ON MY BLAWG. Romantic Sigh. And guess what I gave him? NOTHING! WIFE FAIL! No! Wait! I gave him Dealing With Everything While The Other Parent Runs To The Bathroom! 

This is, quite possibly, the lamest post I have ever EVER written. And that would be saying something. THE END.

I also did poorly in Home Ec

A Pyrex dish exploded in my oven today and that was NOT the worst part of my day! I know!

(I wrote ALL ABOUT the worst parts of my day in a different post, which I then deleted. You are welcome.)

As you know, my college degree is in See How Many English Classes I Can Take Before The School Sends Me A Cease And Desist Letter (WHICH HAPPENED). I took exactly four science classes* in four years of college. I am not PROUD of this but, well, I'm not sure I would do things differently. And this is why today's Chinese schoolchildren will soon be our overlords. 

Anyway, all that is to say: I'm sure there's a very simple explanation as to why a Pyrex dish shattered in my oven and I'm sure one of you will know as soon as I tell you what happened and you probably won't be able to contain yourself in your glee of Knowing Everything and then I will feel STUPID. So please, when you leave your THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED, YOU MORON comment, could you go light on the YOU MORON part? I'd appreciate it. 

SO. I'm into baking bread right now (and eating it, GAH) and we were going to a friend's house for dinner and I wanted to bring bread. I mixed up a batch in the morning, let it rise and was all set to bake my loaf while the kids were eating lunch. 

The recipe calls for a baking stone that you set in the oven while it's preheating. You also put a broiler pan on the other oven rack - you pour about a cup of water into the broiler pan and cook with steam. (I don't know why they want you to cook with steam. Something about a crackly crust? I AM AN ENGLISH MAJOR.) 

Well, I don't have a baking stone OR a broiler pan. I had a broiler pan that came with my oven in the old house and I THOUGHT I left it there when we moved, because it CAME with the oven and I just thought that was the proper thing to do. However! Phillip snatched the broiler pan (and other things-that-really-do-belong-to-the-house, like a window latch we never reattached, I KNOW, he is TERRIBLE) on the last night before we closed. So. We DO have a broiler pan, but it's in a plastic bag in the garage with a bunch of other junk I can't deal with. EITHER WAY. The first time I baked bread (this is not my first time! or my second!) I baked the bread on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. It worked JUST FINE. And instead of a broiler pan I used a glass casserole dish, just because it's the first thing I thought of. 

NOW. I cannot remember if I preheated the casserole dish the first several times I made bread. I think I probably did, because I follow recipes exactly, but maybe not. 

THIS time, I decided to use a SMALLER casserole dish. Again, because it was the first thing I saw when I opened that particular cupboard. And no big deal, right? I just need a container for water. So I put the cookie sheet and glass dish in the oven, set it to 450 degrees and waited twenty minutes. At the twenty minute mark I picked up the parchment paper under the loaf and plopped it down on the cookie sheet. Then I measured one cup of hot water, poured it into the glass dish and freaked the heck out when the dish immediately shattered. It popped and crunched and broke into many little pieces and I just stood there thinking, "HUH?"

Jack said, from his perch across the room, "You broke it Mommy? You broke it?"

Molly said, "Uh ohhhh. Uh ohhhh. Uh ohhhh."

It did not occur to me until later, when Phillip was asking me about it, that this might have, ah, induced injuries. Nothing like that happened. It was hardly even a huge mess, even, because I'd lined the bottom of the oven in tin foil, and so many of the pieces were big enough to pick up with tongs. 

And you KNOW I just went right on baking my bread (using a cake pan this time) because dude, all the timing for rising and preheating is sort of EXACT and I needed to bring bread for dinner! 

Later, after the oven was cool, I slipped the tin foil out of the oven, wiped it down, dug out the bits of glass in the drawer beneath, and called it good. As far as I know, everything still works. 

But HOLY HECK was that freaky. I've never seen glass do that before. I'm sure this all has something to do with temperatures and expanding and sudden changes and BLAH BLAH BLAH but whatever dudes: ENGLISH MAJOR. WHO LIKES TO EAT BREAD.

Anyway. Happy Friday, everyone. I will spend my weekend researching military schools, circuses and gypsies. 

*The four science classes I took? I can't even remember the first two. The last two were Astronomy (surprisingly, astronomy is NOT all about pretty constellations!) and Weather (one of the hardest, if not THE hardest, class I took in college, which probably says terrible things about me, maybe something like: student's horrifying lack of understanding re: temperatures, expanding masses, will one day get her into trouble when she tries to bake bread with steam.)

Did I forget to mention the sequins?

Phillip and I are splitting the rest of what's in the vodka bottle and watching the Olympics. I think there is figure skating? I half watch this stuff and Phillip is channel surfing anyway. We are both wondering why there are no Olympics on Canada TV. (That's how I think of it: Canada TV.) Also! The kids are singing to each other upstairs - so much for the curtain.

Oh yes. Ice dancing. Snore.

We threw a party Saturday night: sequins, poker chips, gin. I think my favorite part was turning our garage (!) into a speakeasy card room, with blacked over walls and Christmas lights strung across the garage door rails. I think a good time was had? Props to my new brother-in-law who appears to have missed his calling in the casino industry. Without him, the rest of us would have stood stupidly around the craps table scratching our chins. I talked Phillip and two other friends into "working" the other games so all I had to do was walk around in my sequin dress, drinking my g & t and passing out extra chips to anyone looking especially desperate.

Phillip just said, "No one's falling," in a very disappointed voice. 

But I think I'm not going to send real invitations anymore. No one RSVPs and because I am who I am, I go around in a Neurotic Funk for weeks, worried that 1) no one is going to come and 2) no one wants to come. WOE. It's stupid, because I have a fabulous group of committed Party Attendees who always show up AND dress the part AND rent 'The Sting' in preparation for calling fake horse races. It shouldn't bum me out, but it does. 

Phillip just asked, "Could we participate in a competitive sport together?" The answer, we agree, is OMG ARE YOU KIDDING.

So I give up. You win, Evite.

Phillip just looked over my shoulder and said, "That wasn't ice dancing. Ice dancing is when there's no jumping at all, so there are even fewer opportunities to fall. Ice dancing would be: 'SNOORRRRRRRRRRRE'." 

Pairs skating? Is that what it is? WHATEVER. Okay, now we're watching skiers going over those little bumpy things. MUCH more interesting. MUCH more falling. We are happy. 

Anyway, we had flappers galore, a cop, homemade spats and mustaches grown especially for the occasion. I wore a sequin dress with a sequin headband. Phillip piped a 20s and 30s music station he found online into the garage. You can drum up a surprising amount of excitement for a "horse race" run by Jack's plastic barnyard animals. There are, as per usual, no pictures of Phillip and none of us together. And I still don't know how to play craps. 

There's always next year!

And you know what we did today? With the kids gone? For Valentine's Day? We drove around town dropping into open houses. Because, you know, there's nothing like ramping up your House Fever with open houses when you're still deciding whether or not you can sell your CURRENT house and have ALREADY decided you are not going to BUY for at LEAST another YEAR. 

WHAT IS WRONG WITH US? (We needed to finish off the vodka, OBVS.)

Oh, AND! We are ALL! SICK! Before I sign off, do I have any other tales of woe? OH! I DO! You will have to wait until tomorrow for THAT whinefest, but I'll give you a hint. It involves the dreaded phrase, "Business Trip." YIPPY SKIPPY!