“Date Day,” the cure for the (un)common date night?

(Most of this short throw-off was written back in late August, but I just noticed that I hadn’t published it, so I inserted a brief addendum, and here it is.)

Joe gave me a great anniversary gift this year: he arranged for a day off for both of us to spend together; and I’m thinking that this may be a new, bi-monthly solution to our date night difficulties.

As everyone with a child knows, pretty much nothing is as much of a rare, precious, desperately yearned-for resource as time for yourselves. So for my gift, Joe planned to take a Friday off from work during my maternity leave and paid for Neve to spend the day (in the baby room) at the same place where Lily would be in pre-school. Plus, as a bonus, he arranged for his parents to come over and feed Lily dinner, and take care of Neve, while we ate dinner at a restaurant.

So after dropping off the girls, Joe made a lovely, Cheerios-free brunch while we read the newspapers; then we went for a bike ride and attended a matinee screening of the last Harry Potter movie. (We’d hoped to do more outdoors, like canoeing, or going biking at Kensington, but that Friday turned out to be kind of overcast and crummy.) After picking up the girls and spending some time with them, Grandma and Grandpa arrived, so we left for a quiet dinner at Sweet Lorraine’s.

You know. A dinner where we weren’t begging/ordering Lily to focus on dinner and eat, with Joe trying to fork food into his mouth while cradling Neve, who suddenly wants to be held.

We did another “date day” for Joe’s birthday in December, and I plan to ask for another in February, when my birthday comes up. It’s a lovely, occasional respite that we can look forward to.

Advertisements

Virtual Time Capsule (or, Letter to my mom, 3 years gone)

Three years ago today, on January 9, you died. You’d dealt with (what began as) breast cancer on and off for 14 years, but when the end came, it worked its destruction on your organs so quickly that we couldn’t get to you before you were gone.

On this particular anniversary, I’ll confess that I feel a strange lightness – an appreciation for the life and family I now have. And I have no regrets. Because you started making a point of saying “I love you” at the end of visits and phone calls once you were diagnosed (thank you for that), I’m not haunted by what wasn’t said; and since we’d visited you and Dad only weeks before, at Thanksgiving and at Christmas – despite the logistic difficulties of traveling by plane with a 7 month old baby – I’m wholly at peace that we got to spend some reasonably “normal” time with you before everything spiraled out of control, and that you got to spend as much time with Lily as was possible before you died.

Lily, sporting her distinctive fashion style in the summer of 2011

That having been said, I know you’d absolutely love to see her now, at age 3 1/2. She’s a mischievous little ringleader, with that trademark, thick, multi-hued honey blond hair that seems to run in our family.

Yes, she can be stubborn, of course (she was bound to get that trait no matter what, with me and Joe as parents), and she’s demonstrated already that she may well possess Joe’s temper and capacity for volume.

But there are nonetheless these moments when I nearly burst with love for her. For instance, when we were returning home from visiting Dad at Christmas, she sang and ran and skipped down the airport’s multiple moving sidewalks, wearing a sparkly red tutu over her purple pants, with her long, ragged braid bouncing off her back. I was the one chasing her with our bags, while Joe stayed with the baby in the stroller, so I got to see the faces of all the people we passed light up with smiles as they watched this sprite of a girl – this little being that Joe and I somehow created. Continue reading

My Year in Culture: a brutally honest list by a parent of 2 kids under 4

Some movies I desperately wanted to see, but didn’t get to:
“The Descendants”
“Hugo”
“Young Adult”
“The Artist”
“War Horse”
“Moneyball”
“Super 8”

Movies I actually got to watch in a movie theater for work assignments (thank goodness this is actually part of my job sometimes):
“Scream 4”
“Win Win”
“Cedar Rapids”
“Ides of March”
“Answer This!”
“Clash of the Wolves” (a 1927 silent Rin Tin Tin film, which was screened as part of a book promotion event with Susan Orlean)

Movies I watched in a movie theater when NOT on the job:
“Rio”
“Mr. Popper’s Penguins”
“The Muppets” (Are you noticing a pattern here?)
“Crazy Stupid Love” (anniversary date night)
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2” (a weekday matinee watched during one of my and Joe’s patented “date days”)

Movies half-watched when rented On Demand, due to a child waking up or one or both of us falling asleep:
“Sex and the City 2”
“Bridesmaids”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1” (we finished watching the following night)
“The Hangover” (watched solo, in pieces, during my maternity leave)

Movies I can nearly quote by heart now:
“Tangled”
“Toy Story 2”
“The Sound of Music” (admittedly, this was true before Lily was around)

The Tony Awards made me anxious to see:
“The Book of Mormon,” of course
“The Normal Heart”
Norbert Leo Butz in ANYTHING (Sutton Foster, too, though I previously got to see her in “The Drowsy Chaperone”)
New York City again, in general

Live shows that led us downtown to the Fox Theatre
An awesome live taping of “A Prairie Home Companion”
Barney’s Birthday Bash

Books half-read – usually because I needed to start reading a different book for work:
“The Imperfectionists,” by Tom Rachman
“Here Comes Trouble,” by Michael Moore
“Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend,” by Susan Orlean
“Lastingness: The Art of Old Age,” by Nicholas Delbanco
“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” by Jonathan Safran Foer

Of the books I managed to finish, my favorites were:
“Bossypants,” by Tina Fey
“Poser,” by Clair Dederer
“This is Where I Leave You,” by Jonathan Tropper

Favorite shows during maternity leave:
Lots and lots of “West Wing” episodes on DVD
“Up All Night” – Duh. It’s like watching our life, but with sharper dialogue.
“Modern Family”
“Parks and Recreation”
“30 Rock”
“Daily Show” and “Colbert Report”
Occasional forays into “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful” while eating lunch. The actor that plays Ridge on “Bold” is so painfully bad that I started to wonder if it was some kind of ironic performance art thing, a la James Franco on “General Hospital.”

Things I love about watching “Sesame Street” with Lily:
The opening sketch; dance-oriented bits; and songs like will.i.am’s “What I Am,” Hunter Foster’s “Lever Lover,” and one of my comedy faves, Ricky Gervais, singing Elmo a lullaby.

Things about “Sesame Street” that make me want to run into traffic:
Abby’s Flying Fairy School – the theme song alone nearly sets off my gag reflex these days. Twinkle think about that.
Elmo’s World – the segment that never, ever seems to end.

Hosts of my favorite “Muppet Show” episodes from the first 3 seasons, which Lily has been watching on DVD:
Harry Belafonte
Gilda Radnor
Roger Miller
Chloris Leachman

Things that keep stacking up on the DVR, but I never, ever seem to watch:
“The Office” – after Jim and Pam got married, it just felt over.
87 episodes of “House,” from various seasons, all slammed together.

Purchased CD by a band I love, yet I have yet to listen to:
Foo Fighters, “Wasting Light”

CD that, four months after I bought it, I listened to for the first time:
Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now”

Song I’ve heard a million times, and that continues to be played as if on a loop, because Lily likes to dance and sing to it, though it now makes Joe want to pierce his eardrum with an ice pick:
Michael Buble and the Puppini Sisters’ “Jingle Bells”

How the last moments of 2011 were spent:
For the first time this past year, we watched an On Demand movie in its entirety in one sitting – Woody Allen’s wonderful “Midnight in Paris” – while drinking champagne, and then we watched the ball drop, and finished up the night with the last scene from “When Harry Met Sally” (my request). About as nice of an evening as we could hope for, really.