Nightscape date night, and a (final) update on the Summer Fun List

IMG_1337When my husband and I do date night, we have a tendency to do the same thing over and over (namely, go out to dinner). We both like to eat in nice restaurants, so that makes sense. But sometimes it’s fun to do something different. Longwood Gardens (a botanical garden about 45 minutes from our house) has been running a nightly light show/art installation called “Nightscape.” They also run a beer garden on summer evenings, so we decided to combine the two last Thursday (when there was live music in the beer garden). I got my tickets well ahead of time, and off we went.

The weather was wonderful — clear, but not too hot. There was even a full moon, rising red above the evergreens. Summer seasonal beers from Victory Brewing Company are the perfect thing to drink outside. The light shows on the trees and flowers were mesmerizing. We got back somewhat late (around 10:45 p.m.) but the baby didn’t get up the next morning until 7. While the wake-ups are usually more of a 5:40/6 a.m. sort of thing, we’ve had a few closer to 7, and it is giving me hope we are about to turn a corner. In any case, getting a full night of sleep was the perfect end to this much anticipated evening.

The Longwood trip was on my Summer Fun List that I posted here in early June. If June is the Friday night of summer, mid-August is like Sunday evening. While summer is not yet over (Labor Day is still 2 weeks away!) I’ve pretty much done what I’m going to do on the list, so here is my final update.

Go strawberry picking. Yep, in early June. It was fun! I would have gone more than once, but it didn’t quite pan out (early June was a full time of year — it always is — so I am happy we got to go at all). On a different strawberry note, I got to meet the artist who painted my strawberry paintings when I visited her studio at the Torpedo Factory in August.

Do “Mommy Days” with the big 3 kids. I went to Hershey Park separately with the 4-year-old and 6-year-old, and went to Washington D.C. with the 9-year-old. These were all great days for the most part, and I loved being able to spend some extended time with each kid individually, doing whatever he or she wanted. There is no fighting when there’s just one kid, and very little whining! I hope to make this an annual tradition. My husband may be starting a tradition of bringing one kid each year to a Texas A&M football game, starting with the 9-year-old this fall.

Visit Ocean Grove, NJ. We’ve made it there several times. My trip with the big kids in July was good. We took some trips as a family on weekends, and those were a bit trying. Herding four kids is just hard. We went this past weekend, and the toddler ran away while we were packing the car (after the 6-year-old stayed on the towel the whole time, asking to leave). I pretty close to panicked as we were about 40 yards from a river, and we were on a street. My 6-year-old spotted the little guy (redeeming himself); he’d climbed the steps up to someone’s second floor entrance in a duplex. We did enjoy our ice cream, though. And I made one solo trip this year.

Do Longwood Gardens at night. See above. Done!

See fireworks. We saw a great show out on Long Island while visiting friends over the Fourth of July.

Do some “tri” days. Well, I did one. The family biked around Valley Forge, I ran, and swam some laps in the pool. While it was fun, biking is such a production with 6 of us, involving 2 cars, that it’s hard to get motivated to do it much. I need to figure out how to load my own bike on my car and just do a solo trip sometime.

Run the ODDyssey Half Marathon. I did this in early June. It was so painful I did not sign up for any races this fall. Running in 84 degree heat is just not pleasant. Oh well. I did run past some fragrant honeysuckle during the race, and I’d mentioned wanting to run on a trail with honeysuckle in June. Given the heat, I’ve started spending some more time on the treadmill, doing speed work.

Read Pride and Prejudice. Sort of. I made it through most of the book. I did not make it through either of the non-fiction books I thought about reading either (The Wright Brothers and Getting Things Done). However, I did read some other interesting books, so the summer wasn’t a total reading loss.

Sing in the Mozart Requiem with my old choir. I did this in early June and enjoyed it. I have thought about joining a choir again, but I’m just not sure I want to make the commitment right now. So it was good to have an opportunity to sing.

This has not been the easiest summer. There were a lot of middle of the night wake-ups and early wake-ups. Even getting the toddler down at night is a trial. We’ve taken to letting him cry it out, and he now passes out each night in front of the door (we put a child-proof cover on the door knob). So part of the evening routine is waiting until the screaming stops, and then going in and moving him back to his crib (we took off the back rail as he was throwing himself over the edge). The other kids have perhaps been around each other a bit much, with the corresponding battles. There has been some soul-sucking insubordination, particularly around the dinner table. I will perhaps write more later about the drama called The Night The Children Were Forced To Eat Shrimp. Professionally, I feel like I’m spinning my wheels. I’m doing a lot, but not really getting done what I want to get done.

So, in light of all that, I am happy I made the summer fun list, and I am happy I did what was on it. There were some other good things too — the unexpected Maine trip, my leader board appearance on that arcade game in Rehoboth Beach, a Phillies game, and an upcoming excursion to Cape May I am looking forward to. When the day-to-day gets a little rough, at least it’s good to feel like I am doing the things that will make it feel, in retrospect, like a good summer. The remembering self tends to be stronger than the experiencing self. The present is fleeting. Eventually memories are all we have. Probably best to make them.

How are you doing on your summer fun list?


18 thoughts on “Nightscape date night, and a (final) update on the Summer Fun List

  1. I love this: “If June is the Friday night of summer, mid-August is like Sunday evening.”

    When August hit, we were feeling pretty glum, and so we listed all of the fun stuff we had done so far and it instantly cheered us up. We still have some fun to be had and, being in New England, will be making a list of fun things to do this fall for sure.

  2. I want to hear about “the night the children were forced to eat shrimp.” Sounds like something I’d try to execute in my house.

    1. @Griffin- it was really a 3-part series, and it included The Night the Children Were Forced to Eat Salmon and The Night the Children Were Forced to Eat Teriyaki Chicken. It was quite a week. I’m tired of the kids eating junk, and I don’t want to make multiple separate meals, and the pickiness was getting dialed up such that one of the three larger children would reject meals I used to make precisely because everyone would eat them. So I went fundamentalist. If I have to fight over scrambled eggs, I might as well fight over real food. That said, I’m not sure the wearing down strategy will work, but I have gotten them to try more stand-alone vegetables precisely because they don’t want the entree.

      1. I am told my daughter eats very well at lunch (fruits, veg, etc. all prepared by our au pair), so I’ve been trying hard not to stress when my daughter won’t take a single bite and says her tummy is full, can I watch tv now? Sigh. The whining can be really tough to take.

        1. @Omdg- the whining is the worst. If they just quietly took 3-4 bites of everything (which is what they do eventually, after the screaming and crying and delaying) and didn’t talk about it, I’d be fine. But it’s like they can’t not talk about it.

    2. I feel your pain on this front! I don’t love cooking (unless it’s big fancy project cooking or baking) so it’s disheartening to try something new and have people gripe about it. We made a rule that no one is allowed to say mean things about the food, everyone has to try one bite, and dinner can be just milk and the vegetable if they choose not to eat what was served as the main course. And I only make one meal because I can’t deal with more cooking than that.

  3. We have the same battle. Every night. Every. Single. Night. My first two way almost everything I put in front of them. The oldest won’t eat turnip greens or any form of potato salad, but that is literally all he won’t eat. My daughter is slightly pickier, but is game to try. That leaves the 8 year old who I am sure thinks I am trying to poison him. I am a trained chef. Grew up in a family owned Southern restaurant. He wants bagel bites and nuggets. And that is all.

    1. @Jennie – at least with your situation you can console yourself that it’s just that kid’s personality. Clearly you didn’t raise your oldest two differently than your youngest, and given that you’re a trained chef, it’s not that the cooking is lacking anything! There is so much romantic nonsense out there on the internet that if you just garden with the children, or involve them with the cooking, or make the food attractive or what have you the kids will eat it. Some will, others won’t. Life does not conform itself to a good personal essay.

      1. Amen! Tonight’s dinner is venison that has been marinating stuffed with cream cheese and peppers wrapped in bacon and grilled, a spring mix salad with walnuts and strawberries and raspberry vinagrette, Parmesan and garlic spaghetti squash AND one prepared box of Kraft Mac and cheese so that Luke will have at least one food that he will eat. In the Battle of Wills- he won. I have given up!! (And I have done all that other stuff, but in the real world I need my kid not to starve.)

          1. Ha! It sounds fancier than it is. Once upon a time I would have made it all from beginning to end. Now a good stocked market does most of the work. I will say this- his favorite food is Mediterranean. But man can not live by shawarma alone!

        1. @Jennie, I really was like your son growing up. And now I’d devour the dinner you have planned and love it! It sounds delicious. There is hope. But… nothing my parents ever tried to get me to eat more broadly as a kid worked. And even now, if some one gives me the “just try one bite” line, I am inclined to dig my heels in and refuse. I’m not proud of that, but it is the truth!

          1. @Cloud I have hope. I’m pretty adventurous and I’ve tried to pass that on. He was great until he got to “visiting age.” He would go visit and have pizza rolls and microwave cheese sticks. Then when he came home that’s what he wanted. (No judgement. I love to cook. Not everyone does.) The irony is that my older two’s friends want to come over and eat at my house.

  4. Your date night sounds wonderful!
    I’m a partially-reformed picky eater myself, so I’m sympathetic to the plight of the picky eater. Rationally, I know that trying something new won’t hurt me, but it takes serious effort to get over the block in my brain screaming DON’T EAT THAT. I stressed a lot over my older daughter’s picky eating when she was little, but have decided to just let it go. She isn’t doing it to annoy me, she’s just got a particularly loud and pervasive DON’T EAT THAT response. Also, we’ve found enough things she’ll eat that she gets her main nutritional needs covered. I try to make things where it is easy to set aside something she’ll like (e.g., plain pasta, the tortilla and cheese portion of our taco night) but we’ve also decided that if she wants to have bread, cheese, and fruit (applesauce, banana- only if on the green side!- or strawberries), then that’s OK. The rest of the family can’t be held hostage to her tastes. I’ve told her that she can try anything anytime, and we’ve talked about having goals of being able to order something at any restaurant and being able to find something to eat when traveling. She gets the reason for that, and I am just trusting she’ll find her way with time. I did. Mostly.

  5. I HIGHLY recommend “It’s Not About the Broccoli” by Dina Rose for an actionable approach to raising healthy eaters. The idea of a “back-up” has really helped our family. Seriously… get it ASAP.

    My summer fun list has been woefully under-accomplished thanks to a broken right ankle (yuck) 6.5 weeks ago. With just one weekend left before school starts, I’m trying to prioritize what we try to accomplish now that I’m more able to hobble around. This whole broken-ankle-during-MN-summer experience has made time pass very, very slowly, and it’s been hard to enjoy myself. Here’s hoping for autumn?!?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *