Date Night!

Last Saturday night Ray and I had a night out. This was the first time we’d been out together since last summer’s party in Dracut. Pretty pathetic! Sadly, it’s been a tight year financially, and dating never made the budget.

So it was especially fantastic to get out of the house, and the reason was even more so: a fundraiser to support the absolutely fabulous Puppet Showplace Theater in Brookline. We got all fancied up, and with friends had a pre-party dinner at Pomodoro, also in Brookline.

First, the food. Amazing! I had orrechiette with sausage and broccoli rabe in a tomato cream sauce. It was so wonderful I showed no self-control and ate it all. Very delicate of me. Having adult conversations, enjoying adult drinks, eating adult food — well, it was a singular experience I hope to encounter more often than once a year.

Then we walked to the Theater to have more pre-show drinks and delicious pastries provided by Montillio’s in Quincy. This bakery is famous for not only who it serves, but the quality of its goods. It’s one of the few things I miss about our tiny apartment — the proximity to Montillio’s!

The show itself was amazing. If you have thought that puppet shows are soley intended for children, you are quite mistaken. The group performing on Saturday night is called the Tanglewood Marionettes. I was especially curious, since I’ve never seen a professional marionette show and this is a group that performs regularly in Brewster, on Cape Cod, where we have enjoyed some summer vacations.

I’m no expert, but the show was spectacular. If you ever get a chance to see this group, take it. You won’t be disappointed!

We got home very late, but our babysitter was busy studying for final exams, so she didn’t mind. I sent her home with a fat check and a container of leftover pastries. The kids were asleep, the dishes were done, the house was tidy — amazing.

I hope to do it again soon, but if we have to have a single date night each year, well, this was a pretty good one to have!

Struggling….

Harold Underdown, on his website The Purple Crayon, offers a tremendous amount of information for children’s book writers.  One piece of advice has stuck in my head these many months….to those of us who think we have “many manuscripts ready to submit,”  Mr. Underdown gently points out that, we don’t.

What he means is we may have writing skills, we may have ideas, but unless we’ve spent hours reading and studying the specialized craft that is writing children’s books, our first manuscripts are likely exercises in writing practice.  Very good, that practice is, but it has not produced material ready to submit to publishers.

I have been trying to rework one of my first PB manuscripts.  I wrote it for Ray a dozen years ago, just for fun, a sweet, completely fictionalized tale of a boy who loved cookies and his mother who helped him learn the gift of giving.  There is some truth and a whole lotta fabrication in this story.  But it was fun to write.  I even “illustrated” it by buying a half-dozen PBs and cutting them up, pasting the pilfered pictures onto my manuscript pages.  It was a good project.

Lately I’ve been trying to rework it, tighten it, strengthen it, for the market I now know much more about.  It’s been tough.  It may be impossible.  Poor Ray of my story may never see the light of a bookstore.

I hope he does.  I’m very fond of him and his cookies.

New Clothes

Speaking of fashion, I got some money for my birthday (thanks to parents and grandma) and took myself to Ann Taylor Loft, where I can be assured of fit and trend, despite my sister’s complaint that the store offered very little that was cute or wearable this season.  Sadly, it was true, but I managed to find a couple of tops — yes, one was showing on a hanger, a white shirt with a pink sweater, and yes, you’d think I could figure that out, but alas, we know what a dork I am when it comes to fashion sense.

After buying some new underwear from that pink store, I was like a new woman.  I do this every season, since my clothes usually get wrecked by the fourth wearing, stained with pasta sauce or markers (washable, smashable).  So I get a few new things, they get ruined, and the cycle continues.  The life of at-home moms everywhere.

Today I worked out, showered, and felt good.  I was looking forward to wearing something new to reflect my perky mood, and gazed into my tiny closet.  What to pick?  It all seemed too nice for my life.  I mean, why waste nice on my kids, home for a day off from school?  Mitzi is a big supporter of my wardrobe, especially when I put on something “pretty”  (read, “clean”).  But they don’t care too much what I look like.  In fact they’d rather I didn’t wear anything but sweats, since when I do I am less likely to be fun.

Nice clothes make it difficult to do what we do.  Today we may go for a walk around the neighborhood, then play in the backyard, soccer, monkey bars, tag.  Maybe we’ll do some yard work.  Clearly, my new clothes are not the best choice for a day at the Estes zoo.  I don’t mind too much, because it’s pretty fun, having fun all day (okay, it’s not all fun and games, see my earlier posts).

So in the closet they stay, waiting for a night out, or a day with anyone over four feet tall.  I just feel badly for Ray, who never sees me at my best any more.  Sometimes on the weekend, if I’ve done my own “nice clothes” special load laundry, which happens once a month or so.  Most days, in the morning, it’s my pre-shower duds, sweats or jeans, waiting for the bus clothes.  By the time he gets home I’ve changed a few times, maybe even gotten that shower, but am back to being disheveled and smelly after a day of wrestling with children.  I know it doesn’t matter to him.  Some days I rouse myself to reapplying perfume or brushing my teeth before he walks through the door, and I’m sure he appreciates that (since I’m pretty sure I never get to brush my teeth before he kisses me goodbye in the morning).  But it doesn’t matter.  He seems to like me in spite of my appearance (I mean, we do have four kids, after all).

My mom says, when he looks at her, my dad claims to see only the teenager with whom he fell in love.  How true that is I couldn’t say.  But I understand the message, and know that it’s the same for Ray.  It’s the package, not the packaging, that he loves.

But darn it.  My new clothes are pretty nice.  I hope to get a chance to wear them some day soon.

A Good Dad

I know that Father’s Day was a couple of weeks ago, and I know that he’s not my father, but have I told you yet how great my husband is?

Okay, he’s got a few flaws, but he’s not only a great husband, he’s a great Dad. Here’s some stuff he does to make my life easier..

  • gets up to attend to any needy child in the overnight hours
  • ever since I quit smoking, he gets up with the first child to wake, makes morning milk cups, changes diapers and/or pull-ups, if necessary, letting me sleep in (for the first time since Mitzi was born)
  • does the heavy-lifting weekend chores, like lawn mowing and dump-runs, bringing along assorted children on errands to lighten my Mom load at home
  • coaches kids’ sports on both Saturdays and Sundays, sometimes during the same season
  • tag-teams bath time with me on the weekends
  • tag-teams the weekend cooking and cleanup
  • is willing to drive a red minivan instead of a more manly Dad vehicle, like a Tahoe or Suburban
  • makes a concerted effort to be home to kiss the kids goodnight

There is so much more I could mention — he washes his own work shirts, for instance — but it’s time for dinner.  Ray’s grilled up some burgers and hot dogs while I had some alone time just now.

Very nice.