"After serving my guests dinner", I thought, "I'll excuse myself for a few minutes to tuck in the older children. After that, I am free to visit."
My efforts to keep us busy during Andrew's absence have been most successful. After spending the previous evening at my sister's home, eating a wonderful meal and enjoying happy conversation, I was motivated to provide my (new) friends with a similar experience.
My first guest arrives. Henry recognizes her as his Nursery teacher. It doesn't take long until Henry requests that she finishes the bed time story that I had started with them. She happily obliges as my next visitor knocks at the door. Wanting to add to the already warm atmosphere, I bravely declare that I am going to start the fireplace. Despite being a first timer, I feel that I can accurately follow the instructions Andrew has provided.
The fire is lit, and if I remember correctly, I pretty much demand that my children applaud at my success. Ugh. Pride cometh before the fall.
As my friends and I gather around the table, Eliza and Henry cozily settle into the couch to watch a few minutes of Winnie the Pooh. Lottie, if you remember, is snoozing peacefully in her crib upstairs.
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP (x 1000 more BEEPS). The smoke detector is BLARING. Its sound triggers the smoke alarms upstairs. Our open foyer is alive with the disturbing, harsh noise. My ears are ringing. Everyone in the house is filled with immediate distress.
Instinct instructs me to turn off the fire. I don't smell smoke, but head to what I assume is the source of the problem anyway. The next step is to find my cell phone. I pray for Andrew to answer.
"Hello!" He greets happily.
"BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP Andrew!! BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP..."
"Ali?!" His wife has called and in the background is the sound of mad chaos.
"How do I disable the smoke detectors?!" I am dragging a chair and as soon as I'm high enough, I begin twisting, pulling and tearing apart the wires. Henry stands motionless in shock. His fingers are frozen in his ears in a futile attempt to block out the noise. Eliza has opened the back door.
"EVERYBODY OUT!!" she orders. "Get outside now." I am too busy working to end the painful sound to offer a satisfactory explanation of what is going on. Thankfully, my guests step up and begin to comfort my distraught children. As for Lottie, I can hear her through the noise bawling in her bed.
It was delightful.
As I drag the kitchen chair upstairs to dismantle the other alarms, I hear Eliza cry out,
"Call 911!" I can't help but feel proud that our emergency discussions/lessons have been well understood. Moments later, the sound has ceased. Andrew, as he realizes that I have company at our house, begins laughing on the other end of the line... out of pity I'm sure. My (new) friends were supportive. After comforting the children, I sat down to my (now) cold bowl of soup and made myself eat. No one was hurt (except my pride) but it was still an awkward, and somewhat surreal, experience.
The picturesque evening of comfort soup, fresh made rolls and friendly introductions had gone up in flames! But we adapted and made the best of the remainder of our night. I hope they come back. As one of my guests said, I know how to make a solid first impression.
And now, a few pictures for Andrew:
(proof we've eaten more than just hot dogs and
macaroni and cheese)