Thursday, April 26, 2012

Carly vs. the Smoke Detectors pt. 1

According to my handy new blogger interface, this will be my 200th post on this blog! Also, according to my new interface I am a slacker. No, it didn't say that exactly, but the fact that I had no idea blogger had totally changed it's look made that perfectly clear to me.
Sorry about that. I've been doing more Facebook updates with the crazy stuff Sam (and now Peyton!) say, which is easy, because it forces me to keep it short. Not something I'm good at.

Anyway, since this blog is called "It's My First Day!" and I'm still pulling stupid rookie stunts 200 posts later, it seems only appropriate to start sharing my most embarrassing "rookie" mistake to date, and of course, it starts on a major holiday.

This year on Christmas morning, we were having my mother-in-law over for breakfast and then rushing off to church. As a sidenote, I'm pretty sure Mormons are one of the only religions that celebrate Christmas, yet don't go to church on it--and in the event that Christmas falls on a Sunday, as it did this past year, we shorten our services. It's kind of funny if you think about it, but we are big on family, and spending as much time with them as possible on holidays. I like it that way, but I can see why other religions think it's weird.
But this post isn't about church on Christmas. This is about my crazy Christmas morning. First of all, since I was cooking a souffle my aunt has made ever year that I can remember and it seems morally repugnant NOT to have it, I had to get up extra early to put it in the oven. You have to put it together the night before and the next morning it cooks for 90 minutes. So I was up well before the kids on Christmas morning. If it wasn't for church, it would have been a brunch and I would have been make-up free and in PJs all morning, but instead, I got up super early, put in breakfast and was showered and ready before the kids even surfaced. Soon Sam bounced up, and while Peyton would have rather slept in, Sam was about to explode so we woke him up and the kids got to go see what wonderful things Santa had left behind.
As expected, getting Sam's presents out of the box was a colossal pain in the butt (why, oh why, oh WHY, do they have to sew doll's hair into the cardboard, and on a related whine, why does Rapunzel have to have so much hair!?) Anyway, the morning was going as expected. Daniel and I were using knives, scissors and various weapons trying to free the new toys from their packaging without swearing, and when we finally got things out, Peyton would rather play with the boxes we just worked so hard to dismantle. You know, pretty basic Christmas morning stuff. We let the kids goof off, we opened gifts, I got dressed in my church clothes. It was a good morning.
Finally, it was time to get the souffle out and put the cinnamon rolls in the oven. Which I did, although I noticed one drop of the souffle bubbled over and hit the bottom of the oven.
Generally, that is not really that big a deal. The one drop burns and it smells a little gross, but then it's all burned up and you and your appliances go about your life and eventually you buy some easy-off to clean the black spot on the bottom of the oven that you vaguely remember was dinner three weeks ago. Right?
Not on this Christmas morning.
The smoke detector went off.  I went to do what I had seen my visiting grandfather do every single time my grandmother cooked at our house growing up, and used a dishrag to wave the smoke away from the detector so it would calm down.
Not gonna happen. Apparently in new houses, all the smoke detectors are wired together, and within seconds all the detectors in the house were wailing like crazy. Sam kept freaking out about a fire, and Peyton didn't care for all the noise. I couldn't get the "smoke"--which we couldn't see or smell any of--away from the kitchen detector, and they would not stop. Plus, it was still really early, and I was really afraid of waking up any of our neighbors for whom sleeping in was their Christmas gift.
Finally, Daniel decided to try turning off the breaker to see if once they were quiet, they would stay off.
Which would have worked, in theory. Except that smoke detectors have back up batteries.
So not only did Daniel have to turn off the power to the house, he had to get a ladder, and one by one take the batteries out of the detectors. At this point, they would let out a sad little shriek and finally die. Turns out, we have a lot of smoke detectors.
It also turns out that when you turn off the power to the house a couple of things happen--1) It goes dark, 2) all the electric clocks die, and 3) the oven (containing your Christmas cinnamon rolls, remember?) dies too.
It was obvious we couldn't turn off the power and keep it that way. Hoping that stopping the noise, and not being able to see or smell any smoke would be enough to keep the smoke alarms from starting up again, we turned the breaker back on.
We made it about 5 more minutes--just enough time to reset all my clocks FYI--before the horrific chorus started up again.  We figured that even though it was a minuscule drop that had burned, and there was no evidence at all of there being smoke in the house, our detectors must be really sensitive. I had opened the oven to check on the very confused cinnamon rolls to see if they were salvageable right before they started up again, so there must still be smoke somewhere!
We did what anyone needing to air out their house in a hurry would do. We turned off the breaker again to get rid of the noise, and then we opened our windows.
Soon, we were all freezing. We tried to turn the breaker back on three more times, only to have the chorus of alarms start up again. Our house was so cold, not only was the heat off because of the lack of electricity, but all the windows were wide open.  The whole family was bundled up, but that couldn't last. My mother in law gets cold easily, and in general I don't really consider it good Christmas hospitality to not only freeze your guests out, but serve them mostly raw cinnamon rolls while they listen to loud sirens wailing throughout their meal. Call me old-fashioned.
I was totally panicked. I had reached the point where I could no longer do a single thing to get ready for breakfast without electricity. I'd even had to go into our food storage to get water bottles because, guess what? The ice maker and water dispenser in the fridge requires electricity.
At this point, a random thought entered my head that I would not enjoy being Amish. Then again, I wouldn't have had the smoke detector issue in the first place since technically, it was technology that had caused this whole mess. I spent the next few minutes internally debating whether being Amish would have made this whole event worse or better. I didn't come up with an answer, but I think my thoughtful staring freaked Daniel out a little.

We couldn't think of who to call for help, it being Christmas morning and all. There wasn't an actual fire, obviously, so it seemed like a jerk move to all the fire department on Christmas morning. Calling any of our friends away from their families seemed equally bad. Google was little help in the few minutes we could try using it between breaker shutdowns. We were stuck. We were worried that even if we could stop them, we would leave for church and they would start up again, making our neighbors angry. It was hard not to laugh, the whole thing was so ridiculous.

Finally, minutes before Daniel's mom was supposed to arrive, we tried one more time to turn on the breaker and heard blessed silence. We cautiously went about our preparations, turned up the heat and found some slippers and jackets to offer our guest. No more alarms sounded.

We got through breakfast okay (despite cinnamon rolls that were burned on the bottom and slightly raw on top), and while I was tensely waiting for the sirens to start again, they didn't.
Daniel stayed home with a runny-nosed Peyton to stand guard over the house, and Sam and I went to church, but they remained quiet.

Finally, we figured that we must never so much as overcook toast again, but at least the Smoke Detector Saga of Christmas 2011 seemed to be over.

I had no way of knowing it was just beginning.

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