Crazy Family, Bats in the Belfry, and an Endless Supply of Wine

When I was in grade school we lived across the street from a beautiful home, surrounded by a dense wooded area. The owner was an elderly widow; and since her children had grown and flown, she pretty much stayed to herself.

However, once a year she would call my father and ask for help with her home. Just a little task called bat removal.

It didn’t matter my father wasn’t in the extermination field. He was the business manager for a small film company, which I’m sure even back then didn’t qualify him to mess with possibly rabid creatures. He would have been better suited for processing paychecks for the flying creatures, but that wasn’t her request.

“Lovie.” (This was the name she called everyone just in case his or her name slipped her memory.)

“Lovie, I have a little bat problem again. Could you be a dear and help me out with it?” Helping her translated to Dad doing the bat removal part, while she stood in the corner pointing out flight patterns.

Annually my family of four would don parkas with hoods, and trot over our arsenal of weapons: tennis racquets, baseball bats, rakes and whatever had a long handle. After the shrieking, yelling, ducking and laughing died down and the bat was safely in the woods, we would head back to bed, ensuring vivid nightmares.

Without fail, the next day our thankful neighbor would knock on our door and gift us her homemade bread. The poor gal could cook as well as remove flying objects because that bread was as dark as the night and as hard as a baseball bat.

Last week, my family on my husband’s side headed to Colorado to celebrate my in-law’s fiftieth wedding anniversary. We had a large condo for much of the extended family, which included a loft for the kids. They were ecstatic to have their own place, so they immediately morphed the loft into their three-foot high apartment.

The Colorado weather was gorgeous. Every night we would sit out on the deck watching the stars and sipping wine, while the kids played in their “fort.”

The problem with drinking wine and having fifteen people coming in and out of a house is that the actual closing of said door becomes less of a priority as the evening goes on. Actually, it’s an unknown fact that the ratio of frivolity is directly related to proper door closure.

A few bottles later, my husband saw a fluttering of the lights in the living room. It wasn’t the wine. Electrical engineers have a gift for spotting problematic lighting. He casually announced to the family outside that there was a bat in the living room.

As you can imagine, everyone came inside to either solve the problem or remove the kids from danger. The next part is a whirr. Someone yelled that the bat was heading to the loft. A child’s scream directs the men to her aid. Distressed child was removed from the once beloved loft. Then began the male planning phase of bat reassignment.

So how many grown men does it take to remove a bat from the belfry? The answer is none. While some were trying to figure out what to do, another closed the bat between the window screen and the window and when he stepped away to find a tool to push off the screen, the bat escaped into the night air. Easy.

Brushing off their hands, the men went back to the deck, so I searched for those in hiding. Down in the basement bathroom, I found the women perfectly entertained drinking white wine and watching Guns and Roses videos on an I-phone.

Does this kind of crazy happen at all family get-togethers or is it just ours?

Never mind. Sometimes it’s best not to know the answer.


A Perfect Princess Party is All She Needs

Nothing More, Nothing Less

With my daughter’s fourth year approaching, all anyone heard for two months was her upcoming party, the presents she demanded, and the cake…oh, yes, the pink, pink cake!! As a first time mother, I didn’t have a clue how important these three things were; but fortunately, since she reminded me of her wants every 13 minutes, I was prepped.

young girl’s fourth birthday, in terms of life importance, is comparable to your first new car, Senior Prom, your wedding day, and the next series in the “Game of Thrones” series all tied into one. It’s that big. 


Now our daughter’s party request was a surprise to my husband and I who thought our daughter was enough of a tomboy to barrel through the Princess phase unscathed, but boy, were we mistaken.

If you have a girl who is three years old, start saving up for next year’s party because she will have some ideas of how her party should play out.       

The (Verbal) List of Demands

1) It must be a perfect princess party – A Perfectly Precious Princess Party.

2) 50 balloons (her number, not mine) – pink and off-pink.

3) Huge cake = pink cake, pink icing and princesses on it. (Translation: Every Disney princess which has ever been created)

4) Every guest must be dressed as a princess, preferably in what?! Yes…pink.

5) A pink princess piñata. I know what you are thinking… yes, they do make these scary contraptions, but you don’t have to beat a princess over the head with a baseball bat anymore. You can buy a pull-string piñata. I never had heard of this type, but still felt odd having every child grab a ribbon from the perfectly pink underskirt and having copious amounts of candy fall on the floor. We opted for a pink tiara piñata. Just as effective for the kids and not as many adult jokes!

Keep it Quiet

Do NOT mention this party to your child again until the morning of the big day. If you think it a bonding experience to involve your child in the party planning, you are WRONG! Toddlers have a slight preoccupation with themselves and their immediate needs to be filled…immediately. After you have the details from your child, zip it and keep everything a secret. Believe me. This will save you from a bunch of whining.


Many invitation and party kits come in sets of 8, so whatever you do, don’t invite 9. It will rock your planning world!  And don’t forget that if you buy the thank-you cards that match, the number of those probably won’t match the invitations. Kind of like buying hotdogs and buns. You are always going to have extra buns. Thank goodness now there are so many great designs for invitations on the web. I don’t think I’ll ever do the paper ones again.

Scheduling of Date

The most important question for picking a day for the party is: Are there any big sporting events on this day? If you want the men in your family to be “present,” don’t schedule the birthday during your family’s favorite college or NFL football game  They will be irritated, resentment might ensue…and this is no way to start off a princess party. A true princess expects her subjects to be at her beck and call, and no sporting event shall trump her event.

If you see the men trying to sneak into the back room or the man cave to watch the game, they will  tick off the princess. If you think it’s bad to upset the princess, you have no idea how  bad things will be if you  piss off the Queen.

(photo provided by DigiAvalon)

It’s good to be Queen!


Hiring Help

For some this is a natural step, to phone a professional to make the magic happen. Some party companies have all of the Disney Princesses available to perform for your group of girls. However, they can be quite pricey. If your budget is wiped out soon after the invitations and decorations, you can be up the moat with no drawbridge. It is best to figure out if you have any friends who owe you a BIG favor.

Becky, I might need a little help with a teensy, tiny art project for a few girls on Saturday,” you ask.

“I thought that was little Anastasia’s birthday,” Becky questions.

Promising your “Becky” cake can help if she hesitates to agree. Luckily, I told my friend I would supply her with free Diet Dr. Pepper, loads of cake and that she could keep her tiara. That was enough to cinch the deal.

The big day arrives and I am prepared. My friend shows up early, grabs a tiara and we stand post for the “carriages” to arrive. This is what you must call the cars that pull in the driveway. The guests were asked to come in costume so they have to be treated like royalty as well.

Party Itinerary

With this many four year-olds, a parent must have a grand plan. One that will fill up every moment of the party, so that these ornery princesses don’t pull Tupperware out of the kitchen drawers and throw them into the air starting a group giggle and squeal fit.

This is what I planned for the two hour party: Introductions and greetings in formal dining room, art project of decorating pink purses with beaded handles, opening of the presents, piñata string spectacular, a dramatic reading of Cinderella, cake and ice cream and to finish up with a Princess Parade, which the parents are invited to return and video tape when they come pick up their child.

All of the events went smooth as silk. The girls loved stringing beads on pipe cleaners to attach as handles of their new purses. No one got a concussion from the piñata. Bonus! The children kept their focus on the story and kept seated in fascination.

I look at my watch and my heart skips a beat. I lean into my friend and whisper, “We only have cake and ice cream to do, and over an hour and a half left!” Holy Royal Balls!!

Princess Cake

This is why you need much more planned than you think you would have time for. This way you can avoid our impromptu change of schedule, which included improvisation games such as pin the pink ribbon on the door, or pick up the piñata candy with a spoon and put it in your princess purse. Or the best one we came up with: turn up the radio and have a princess dance fest!

The Princess Party was Perfectly Precious! The girls had a great time and after I awoke from my sugar induced coma, I realized all the effort was worth it. My daughter remained in her dress and heels until bedtime, requesting to wear them to sleep – denied. However, she got over it quickly, told me how much she loved her party, and was asleep before her head hit her royal pillow.

And I’m pretty sure my big four-year-old princess dreamt in “pink” that night.

What did your child want for his 4th birthday party? Did you go overboard or was it low key?                     

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