Birthday Bonanza with Buckteethed Rodents: And Other Tales of Thirty-Something Auntiedom (With Bonus Tangos)

Previously on A&A's Adventures in Cohabitation: Purity of Essence! Auntie Adella's battles with Evil Associate Thompson ended in blood loss, while veggie heads did roll and seizures ran amok round Padden Lake. Wits were lost to Wiley Wittgenstein, whilst oneiric aerial animalia caroused in oriel cockpits of white and lilac. Papers plummeted like manna from heaven and work was conquered at great cost. And the Great Wolves bayed as family fun-trips loomed on the horizon. 

Coming Up: Do you hear the howls of the great wild wolf beyond the tittering rodentia? A birthday blast explodes in sauce, sass, and sugar! Odysseys commence beyond the setting suns and into the apocalyptic dregs of baby-Vegas. While the rat blow favor on kiddie quests or no-dice the demoniacal quest for ticket dominance? Kitties purr and pounce on tables under siege, as father flee and grammas are left to fend for themselves in a battle with terrorist teriyaki and anarchist scuba tots. Will Auntie Adella survive the fudgey schrapnel long enough to reach  thirty-two with eyes of blue? Will Grandpa David e'er be found or has he fled in fear well into the mountains? What horrors and treasure lie beyond the year of 31 for our Auntly heroine and her cycling consort??

Grab your cup o'tokens, break out the duct tape, and join the fray to discover the seedy secrets of tiny-tots-den-and-din-o-sin below...  

Me-Yowza Wacky Weekend Whoopety-Dooo-Dah Auntie Adella searches out her stilettos and pours the coffee

Associate Thompson goes on Furlough today folks as the grand wait for the official start of 8:30 a.m. breakfast with the family pends. Technically, is it currently 8:45 and last I heard, somebody was still in the shower and Daddy-Ryan returned from leaving (around 8:20) to grab some pre-breakfast donuts... 

Oh ho, but as this post turns live-blog, I've just been informed that "Everyone is in cats and headed to Diamond Jim's" Meeeeow indeed. I believe that's s swypo, but one can never be sure with this family. Given that this is a very crowded diner and we number in the nearly tens when all are accounted for, I may not be rushing to meet them. I'm anticipating a thirty minute wait as a high possibility, and the service there is typically sluggish and frenetic all at once!

8:47: I suggest that perhaps, given the crowd and all, Andrew and I will head down after the order for the table has been put in. 

9:00: I am informed by gramma Pam that there's a table with the Falconer dibs on it (just a pesky other family to wait out). Andrew and I get our shoes on and head out. 

9:02: We are now heading to the Cat. Being a pathfinder, I'm thinking our steed today is some kind of lion, which is appropriate since I am, after all, a leo. 

9:05: We head out. I tell Gramma Pam as much.

9:08: Gramma Pam suggests maybe we want to wait, since we still don't have a table. I say whoops too late and we continue along a slightly serpentine path, since Andrew got a little confused about where he was going and I was otherwise distracted.

9:14: Receive a text message that the whylum patriarch of OUR TABLE is now paying, so should be ok.

9:17: Approach the restaurant. Notice a man crossing the street who looks incredibly like Daddy Ryan... about two blocks from the restaurant. Wonder if this implies mass exodus. Carry on towards the restaurant.

9:22: Make faces through window at related nephews before squeezing into the little waiting area. Contribute our part with appropriate glares at the cunctatious family still sprawled across OUR TABLE.

9:27: Daddy Ryan returns to add to our symphony of stares. 

... etc.  I think we did in fact managed to be seated around 9:35, and after several complex negotiations (John Kerry made a brief appearance near the final go-round of talks), orders were even made. Food was, somewhat, consumed. Coffee was, most definitely, refilled several times. 

After one final push through one of the crazier weeks at work, Englettlaw has rested its case(s).

 Thank goodness, because the paper flurries in my office were getting perilous. Tonight I've got tango with which to contend. As the special guest dj, I have a playlist less carefully cultivated than I'd hoped for my grand return to the spot. I'm thrilled about my cortina (music played in between sets of tangoable music to clear the floor) though. It's the Anvil of Crom from the original Conan movie. I was originally going to honor my upcoming birthday by cutting together several cortinas from different movies that came out on my birth year (1982), but got lazy. Plus, a single cortina makes it a lot easier to distinguish between "alternative tango music" and "get off the floor + find a new partner" music. 

Mostly, though, it's laziness. And an overwhelming sense of excitement every time I hear the Conan score wash over my computer speakers. 

I'm not entirely sure what's up otherwise. My dilatory approach to reaching the restaurant is complemented by an urgent desire to get to the grocery store before it's too crowded and to get the other little chores done that I'd like to accomplish out of the way. Also, hang out with the nephews and folks. I'm sure they have some excitement in store. 

Anyways, hope that your morning/afternoon/evening is going well. May hypoallergenic felines purr you through a pleasant weekend!

Traspie-ing the Light Fantastique And Other Musical Interludes on the Maundering Way to Thirty-2-Cool-2-B-4-gotten
I don't stay out late for nearly anything. Parties. Friends. Family. Fun. But give me a chance to (1) gambol in gravid musical ecstasy with fresh feet and only slightly fresh dream-dance partners, (2) inflict my music on a community of dancers regardless of oneiric status, and I will be up at buzzing like a bumble bee on Red Bull. 

Currently my cavorting days are limited by the creaky arch, which is still a touch tentative about flinging itself back into the very activities that strained it so. Being just enough aware of the little electric shocks in my feet keeps me out of ensorcellment. Having been absent from "the scene" so long has limited my cadre of recognizable "safe" partners. So, fortuitously perhaps, I've been making early nights of my tango dalliances this summer.

Until last night. When I played the house down. It's been far, far too long since I last dj-ed, an activity that always feels like a hassle until I reach the trance state of pure playlist passion. Usually about four hours before my duties start up. 

I have a pretty typical pattern: (1) Obsess about the upcoming obligation while listening out for random music I think I might want to fold into a playlist. (2) Do very little with these other than accumulate wishlist mp3s or a hodge-podge of orphan singles. (3) Get distracted by life until a few days before the event. (4) Give up entirely on having a newer better playlist, and determine to just recycle an old one. (5) Get a little engrossed changing out the cortinas (musical interludes) for the even funnier little injoke with myself that I've developed. (6) Some hours later, call it a "workable playlist" and flee without really finishing it. (7) At the aformentioned very close to the actual event, bend to the mad afflatus of Eutwerpy (Terpsi's kid sis and Muse of musical arrangements). (8) Become completely obsessed, change absolutely EVERY single list, buy at least three more songs, discover several pieces of music I never knew existed and certainly didn't know were perfectly concinnuous with entirely different songs I own from different genres and artists, and otherwise plummet down the Rabbit hole. (9) Make it to the event, get things booted up and have several last minute attempted switches to hit the timing just right or accomodate the mood of the place. Most of the last minute switches will be reversed even more last minute because it is a damned good playlist. (10) Revel in how friggin' awesome my music is and what a buzz it is to really share it with a room. 

I had some very successful sets last night. Not a whole lot of misses. The floor was abnormally packed. Given the slight unfamiliarity mixed with the carriage that telecasts "we do this aaaall the time and are not shy about being here so... so there!" I'd posit that we had some peregrinating Canadians on the floors last night. Perhaps a large showing of them. They were, as is their wont, pleasant and far more into experimental, fusion, and otherwise non-traditional, for the most part. Levels scattered all over the place to make for a farrago of our fandangos. I didn't feel horribly out of place forcing Mr. (W)right to dance a blues set with me (technically an alternative vals set, though I'm not sure many people picked up on that and I'm probably not repeating that set again, sadly... the musicality and skill ranges were more or less all over the place as is typical). 

The musical details in:

I used tv as inspiration in a few ways. A Virgin State of Mind is a song I first heard on a particularly steamy scene from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (good soundtrack for mining), as was Transylvanian Concubine (an alt vas attempt that didn't hit nearly as well as the Zero 7 If I Can't Have You or Natacha Atlas' This is a Man's World). One of my favorites for a long time has been Boom Boom Ba, which featured heavily in the Dead Like Me Soundtrack. I paired that with Superveille's Miles De Pasajeros and G-Spliff's Viejo Abasto. And my final set ended with a Bear McCreary cover of All Along the Watchtower (Battlestar Gallactica score) following the aforementioned Virgin State of Mind and Viviane's Meu Caracao Abandonado.

I did recycle one successful set from about a year ago: Resolve by Nathan Lanier and Alten Mara by Mythos (they are perfect complements) followed by Andalucia by Mythos. 

And no set is complete without cross genre covers. I filled the need with a classic Mandragora Tango set that ended with Oelle Como Espiritu Adolesente (Smells Like Teen Spirit)

And my arch held up with several prolonged breaks in between dance. Almost a relief not to have too many familiar leads with whom I'd otherwise be tempted to trip fantastical lights. I was twitchy enough sitting through some amazing sets that just begged for dancing. 

While I'm skipping our DINK run this morning as a precaution, I do think I'm regaining strength. I even wore heels yesterday! Phew! I hate those flats. I think they're just as much strain as the heels (stickier to boot, and the floor was HUMID last night). 

And with that bit of interlude I'm back to Auntie Adella with a little helping of DINK house keeping thrown in there. We met up for dinner in the oven-attic of Fairhaven Pizza last night. Precariously set up at the edge of the stairs, "we" (Ok, mostly Andrew) quite impressively polished off several fancy pizzas. I actually could not finish my large salad, which was roughly the size of a small garden. 

Bingeing on salad is a strange activity: one alternates between horrifically uncomfortably oversated and rapaciously hungry quite often within the time frame of a typical pizza meal. While the Falconers followed up their pre-breakfast donuts with a post-dinner ice cream run, Andrew and I returned to pretty ourselves up for tango. 

This morning Daddy-Ryan is fleeing the Coast back into the warm and welcoming arms of Wall Street. The boys have had their donuts (apparently this is his way of distracting them for long enough that mommy can have her shower... lord knows what we're going to do once he leaves and they are left donutless). I believe that my sister is also briefly fleeing "to drive Daddy to the airport." There may be stops along the way home, Auntie Adella speculates. And Gramma Pam is in full swing, possibly on swings at a playground. Auntie Adella is keeping  a watch on her chat as she armors up for her weekly shopping excursion. We'll call her "on-call" for now. 

She is also tired from not getting enough sleep the night before. Her grand plans include naptime later, once Uncle Andrew returns from whatever masochistic bike ride thing he's on about today. 

One must rest up before ascending to the next level of thirtysomething! It is not to be wandered into lightly.  

Mustard Cake and Play-Do Ice-Cream Thirtysomething Even Somethingier and other Tales of Almost Grown-Up Life

First off, holy crap, thank you for all the birthday wishes world! Really, the credit and the congrats should go to Ms. +Pamela Englett, who did a lot more work to make this particular day a reality. I hear that birthing a child, even one as stellar and spectacular as myself, is something of a challenge. She even had a prior birthing experience so as to know that cake-walks would be deferred until future years (and then would likely be more like "cake smearing across toddler faces and unwashable furniture." So thanks for the wishes and a Happy You-Did-Something-Crazy-32-Years-Ago-And-Are-Still-Paying-For-It-Momsy to the aforementioned Gramma Pam/Mom-boss.

Having had my frisky fandangos with tangos on Saturday evening, I was ready to rise from bed with bleary eyes and  a bit of a buzz for my oncoming rush of Auntiedom. First a yawn or two. On Adella Standard Time, the milonga ended at "This is TOTALLY SUNDAY MORNING in my land" time, which translates in typical Tango Standard Time to "just about time for the really  hopping milongas to start opening the doors for early birds and beginning lessons." Which in PST equals about 11:45 p.m. As I am functionally a blend of five and ninety-five years old, I tend to rise as roughly 5:00 a.m. most days regardless and in defiance of any particular bedtime. I was determined not to let my punctilious punctuality get the best of any stab at sleep; determined to the point that I swilled a half dose of nyquil before bedding down (at about 12:30) in the hopes that it would grog me up nice and good for a later morning. 

Semi-success. I slept until 6:45. Which is pretty impressive. I have a tightly wound internal clock. Any longer in bed and it might have sprung me right into a wall. So, go-go-gadget off-label abuse of common cold medication!

Sixish hours under my belt, I was surprisingly chipper and conscious for my date with Auntiedom. Mommy was driving Daddy Ryan back to the airport... in Seatac... which is a long ways away. Apparently, Mommy and Daddy didn't think that 4 - 4.5 hours of straight driving would make for a fun full-family outing. And Grandpa David had some other obligation involving his family. So at roughly 11:00 a.m. all the grown-ups ditched Gramma Pam with the rugrats. Except me. 

I tend to think it's important that in non-parental child-watching situations (and ideally child-watching situations across the board, but we'll start with non-parental for feasibility's sake) (1) children should never outnumber the adults by more than a 2:1 ratio, and (2) there should be a back-up grown up to drive the primary grown-up to the emergency room should kid-watching go awry. Given that philosophy, I spent most of the airport caper with Gramma Pam and the Munchkins (911 button on standby dial on my nearby phone, of course). Especially warranted when the two more articulate and sizable sprats declared in no uncertain terms that "THERE IS NO LAW!" early into the morning. Wee little anarchists can not be trusted. 

As I approached the door, I heard muted shrieking and a minor rumble of elephant tiptoes. I was belatedly ambushed by Sam and Braden, who had mistakenly staged their scuba sniper stations in the garage. They did at least give me a half-convincing "Boo" upon realizing their misdirection. I was promptly armed with a snorkle gun in a moment of fair play, upon which we entered into a teeny-tots John Woo stand-off 'twixt myself, Ian, Braden, and Sam... all of whom were on their own separate sides and sporting everything from baseball bat rocket launchers to bicycle pump grenade launchers.

 I was naturally tattered into a distant smoky memory several times within the first few minutes of my arrival (thank god, we did have that second adult, see??). I'm only amazed that the house held up! Also, minimal bloodshed and battering... yet. That came later. Some time between blocks and treadmill dashes. Yes, that's right. If you recall last years adventures with treadmilling, you might recall Auntie Adella had the prominent honor of being the "adult" who turned away for one second and allowed Ian to go flying off the treadmill into a distant wall with a face full of tread-track.

Luckily. Gramma Pam was a bit more strict in enforcement, and the elder ones were too distracted by building an armada of paper airplanes. Or should I say duct-tape airplanes, I'm pretty sure we went through a roll of tape getting the "balance" just right. I once had fingerprints, I'm pretty sure. Wonder if there's worker's comp for duct tape airplane technicians? 

Actually the most hazardous event of the day appeared to be Wii Olympics curling! At least somehow, Braden ended up with a fist in his eye (I don't follow curling very well, but can only assume that this is some kind of technical snafu that comes up during "sweeping"?) and Ian manufactured several little (possibly bleeding) spots on his legs. Duct tape bandages were forestalled only through vigilant interruption from Aunt Adella and a healthy heaping of bandages from Dr. Sam. 

A close second in the hazardous event category was certainly lunch. My god, it's a battle and those microwave burritos are vicious foes. Burns were seared, sauce was spilled on the ground and adorably matched outfits soiled with terrorist-teriyaki. It's just too close and too soon in my trauma therapy to speak of the fudgesicles.... oh the bleating of the fudgesicles shakes my dreams! I'm not sure much was actually consumed of any of that meal, but it was appropriately vanquished and scattered to the four corners of the living room with only a few tantrums. 

Sam's increasing inquiries after upcoming PARK plans and/or return of the mommy were deferred temporarily with tales of Dot the Existential Fire Dog? Why? Why should firepersons wear suspenders and why will they put out fires and WHY just WHY? What's the point of it all?? Ok, that was Sam's take on it anyways. As we only got through two pages of the book, I couldn't say how it all turned out. Maybe Dot ultimately grasps the universe's indifference to canine suffering, which allows her to plunge into the fires for a final respite to her meaningless existence. One can never say for certain, except that should such an ending have been found, you can bet that Sam would have simply smiled and - once more with feeling - asked "why?" 

A mixture of lunch and traffic delayed mommy even longer than anticipated, and once plans were set in motion for park, Auntie Adella abandoned ship. As I hadn't exactly planned to stay at the house very long, I'd left a load of laundry in the washer and had yet to accomplish any of my weekend chores/tasks. A wild warrior dash through Freddy's left me with the essential staples (no prep work for Adella today). Another dash through the house got trash out, bed made, dishes washed, groceries stowed, and second-load laundry stopped.

At some point, I alit in the study where Mr. (W)right had nestled after finishing his ride. After a semi-coherrent exchange of grunts, he mentioned that he'd pretty much played computer games all afternoon while I battled for my survival on several fronts! I'd be bitter about the discrepancies there, and whatever insanities endured on behalf of our home chores, but I brought it all on myself today. Would it have been nice to return to a fully cleaned home, fresh coffee, and a made bed from a husband who just knew I might be tired after a long day with the kids? Sure. Would it have been even more nice to be greeted at home by the solicitor of some long-lost relative who left her entire estate, including a five bazillion dollar mutual fund and a few flying horses? Mos' Def'! Did I ask or broadcast any expectations to my husband that he do anything other than stare vapidly at the computer after a pleasure ride while I ran around like a DINK without her head on? No. 
Did he, in fact, do the one thing I actually requested and move "my laundry" (mostly our sheets, granted, but started by me and with my other laundry). Yes.  If he had tried to help out with my chores was there the very real possibility that he might have "done it wrong" and actually incurred annoyance instead of uxorial gratitude? I cannot deny such things! A foretaste of motherhood should I endeavor upon that perilous path for sure. 

An increasingly complex series of colloquial grunts, and a rousing round of Frere Jacques that last much longer than anticipated when we first set out into counter-point, melted into a pleasant afternoon's walk and some something about bike gears and nutrition strategies and um... things. My brain was mostly hash at the time. But it had to do with bikes and/or biking. I'm pretty sure of that. 

We reconnoitered with a returned mommy, Screaming Sammy, screen-timed-out Ian and Braden, and a bedazed Gramma Pam at Boston's. Andrew noted the fortuitous overlap between "places that are family friends" and "places that serve a crapton of alcohol" and I admit I'm tickled by the convenience as well. Drunk people... children... pretty much the same thing.

From what I've gleaned Sam was maybe just hungry, but he did seem to be quite particular about (1) going home, immediately, (2) rejecting his lemonade until mommy ordered a chocolate milk under his ukase, (3) rejecting the chocolate milk in favor of the lemonade, (4) combining the lemonade and chocolate milk into a single confectionary beverage (some were put off by this, but the more I think of it, then more easily I see the overlap between chocolemonade and milk chocolate gourmet bars with citrus notes... he's just a connoisseur, (5) Adding Ian's Sierra Mist and water to his beverage vault, (6) ordering mac and cheese, (7) rejecting mac and cheese, (8) demanding any one else's food available, (8) fleeing the restaurant with his chocolate-lemonade-soda combo.

Whatever fills a screamin' mouth with a short smile is fine by me.

Today, it is MY BIRTHDAY!!! Naturally, we are going to Chuck-E-Cheese. Uncle Andrew's never been. I haven't been since I was a kid myself. Clearly this had to happen. I might even invite the nephews. Braden informs me that CEC only serves mustard so I am guessing we'll be having a dijon cake, perhaps with the Play Do "ice cream" that Sam and Gramma Pam ever so carefully mushed into the table yesterday... My gastric juices are rumbling with anticipation already!

I might also try a spot of work. Just for kicks. Wise and bright little owly kicks.

Happy my birthday everyone! And Monday. Happy Monday.

Kid Vegas: Where an Aunt Can Be Adazed Whizkid Wizdom in the Merriment Meggido

Auntie Adella has earned her age-up. And possibly a few new fine lines - not wrinkles, mind you, so much as beautiful-fairy-princess marks from a crown possibly made for a smaller headed lass judging by the enduring headache that she eventually correlated to prolonged assumption of her celebratory diadem. 

And boy have I been feted. Or boy has there been celebration nominally having to do with my survival for yet another year on this earth mostly centered around upping the stakes to see if I could survive THIS day! By god, there was cake (or something approximating "cake" made of indestructible nuclear sugar bombs). 

So, Chuck-E-Cheese... if you didn't grow up in the US in the 1980s and/or if you haven't been a parent in the US in the last forty years, this little din of mini-sin may have slipped past your radar. Which is a shame. It is a cultural institution. My earliest birthday memories actually involve a Chuck-E-Cheese (or, if you are hip and cool these days: CEC).

It really is Vegas for kids (and their desperate parents) - a mean, lean spare income sucking machine that will squeeze your hearts and your wallets like lemons in a press. Flashing lights, junkified comfort foods at marked up prices. Stage shows. A million ways to lose your lunch money. And lady luck whispering sussurous nothing about her favors all around.

 Like many arcades, there are games. These games are funded by tokens, which parents can purchase in bulk. Many of the games reward you with tickets. These tickets can be accumulated in amounts far exceeding the average paper stock of an office printer. They can then be "fed" into a mouse-themed ticket muncher. The munching machine, far as I can tell, makes lots of munching noises and then gives you a certificate noting how many tickets you have fed it. From there, you (the beleaguered parent) take your hard working ticket-earning children to a little prize desk and claim... one or two pieces of candy. Because your tickets aren't worth much, baby. Sure, they have the BIG ticket (har har) prizes on wild display, but to earn these, you'd probably have to spend roughly twelve hours and untold fortunes' worth of tokens.

This particular reward system serves to leave one feeling a slight ping of dopamine-appetizer, but mostly empty inside - just a little bit like the food itself - all in the hopes of leaving you desperate for a bigger hit. It seems like a pretty workable model. Shockingly, this particular Casa Del Epilepsy maybe was not cashing in, exactly. I mean, they were workin' it. They had their animatronic CEC rat announcing half-hourly entrances from their disgruntled employee in Rat Suit. They had every light in the house strobing more than your average rave could imagine... and yet... ABANDONED in a vacant mall with even the big letter stores already shut down for the day. With the exception of ourselves, a few morbidly obese elder people and their sobbing children, the clamor of the machines eerily belied the stillness of the human element. 

Bored employees doted on us, making up for a minor error in executing our order by foisting an additional semi-edible pizza on our underpopulated table (Grandpa David inexplicably manufactured some airtight alibi for his whereabouts and fled the county). Now, I'm casting unfair aspersions on the pizza. It was beautifully and exquisitely targeted at two specific groups: (1) college aged stoners (and actually much of the ambience seemed to have an underlying vibe, not just because of the almost transparent drug references in games like Primo JOINTZ snowboarding and the phallic towers of lights begging for an addled chuckle), (2) children just shy of insulin explosion. I couldn't shake the lingering sense of familiarity, as if somebody had dredged the dumpsters of late-night Domino's of yore. Nostalgic, almost. Perhaps with the theoretical beer on tap, this also appealed to parents grabbing on to memories of youthful freedoms. 

Anyways, yes, wow! What a girlishly garrulous gambol we took! Utterly fascinating. And Andrew's first time! The nephews seemed properly plugged in to the Seizurelandia prozac, tabbing up tickets with gusto and all but snubbing their enormous heapings of pizza and sugar paste for yet more flashing images. I even took a few spins on a few of the "simulated ride" games with Sam earlier on. Retreated to my table with a double salad plate (Grandpa David bailed only after we'd ordered too much pizza, drinks and salads). And we all sang a very merry Happy Birthday to myself before attacking the cake, and opening my beautiful handmade cards. Braden's had yellow crayon on it to signify mustard, while Ian's was florid with prose and wishes that I enjoyed the book Gramma Pam bought me since the gift from them hadn't arrived yet. 

As I like to drag these things out, the birthday celebrations are only beginning. I did just go all to pieces receiving a gift, a card, and a phone call from Daddy-Dubya and Grandpa Wright. Made my morning and evening, as they spaced it just accordingly. I even heard from a friend who I thought had stumbled off into North Korea (really, he had plans to do so and apparently fell through) last night. 

I've got stockpiles of presents yet to be opened and a few cards to sift through. The fella and I are celebrating on our Wednesday date night. He's been trying to hand off the amazon box in which my present must have come on me since last week. So I think he'll be relieved to transfer it into my possession before a chance loss. 

And of course, who doesn't celebrate their birth week by first going to the place most likely to turn young adults onto birth(day) control AND then following up with a nice fun visit to the reproductive endocrinologist! What can I say? Maybe the Doctor have cake (to shove down my throat while telling me to keep gaining weight and take some more crazy hormones or whatever). 

And all this, is just a foretaste. You could call our CEC CEC Caper a dress rehearsal (bathing suits optional) for THE TRIP to GREAT WOLF LODGE!!!! DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUN. Fasten your seatbelts, baby. It's gonna be a weird and wild ride in a pretty small car. 

Happy Tuesday. I'm feeling the 32 and it feels fine! 
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