Well, THAT went well!
I floated through the pasta dinner on fluffy white clouds of easiness and danced through glittery rainbows of I-can-handle-this.
What made this dinner so easy compared to the last one? Two things: other people and Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol. Five other families signed up to contribute to the food so there was no underabundance and frantic casting about for spaghetti sauce. I prepped for the lasagna yesterday by grating cheese and browning the meat. Early this afternoon I made the four lasagnas and then after I washed the dishes necessary for the lasagna prep, I filled two pots with water and sat them on the stove, ready at a moment's notice (or 4:30 p.m.) to boil for spaghetti noodles. I heated up spaghetti sauce in the crock pot (on the deck--no sense in heating up the house more than I had already). Then I sat for 15 minutes to read The Lost Symbol. After 15 minutes, I cleaned for half an hour. Then I read for another 15 minutes. Then I cleaned for half an hour. Et cetera (until 4:30 when I had to heat up the water and finalize the food placement on the table prior to kids showing up). Alternating some relaxing reading in with specific amounts of time cleaning helped keep my head from detaching and rolling off to parts unknown.
And so the house was as clean as I wanted it to be and the food was ready to go when Paul texted me that they were on their way. I had five helpers (Jim, Liz, Linda, Mrs. Brian's-mom-whose-name-I-have-forgotten, and Mr. Brian's-dad-whose-name-I-think-might-be-Mike). Mr and Mrs. Brian's-parents brought chairs and tables and the evening was so perfect weatherwise that all the kids ate outside!
I was so glad to have prepared better this time because then I was kind of excited to see the stampede of 30 hungry runners. They are a good group of teenagers. I thoroughly enjoyed standing on the fringes of 10 conversations occurring concurrently. It was like the bubbling of a vigorous stream that I could dip my fingers into and let it wash over me and I didn't have to dive in to enjoy its refreshing and rushing energy.
The parents who helped all agreed that it went well and that if I was willing to be the host again next year, they would be here to help. I don't mind having it here as it gives me the motivation to clean the house.
And I get the leftovers.
P.S. I found out why Paul didn't want to host a pasta dinner--because he was afraid I'd flip out again. *Ashamed sigh* This year went so well that he said that he would be happy to have it here again next year.