This was quite the weekend. I actually printed up my time log for the week of October 2-8 just to marvel at what all happened in the course of seven days.
The weekend itself started fairly low key. My husband took the big boys to Texas to watch the Texas A&M/Alabama game (which was not the total blow out it could have been). They met up with cousins, an aunt, an uncle, and my mother-in-law. They were out the door Friday morning at 6:30 a.m., so I only needed to get one of my own kids on the bus. I took over for the evening at 6:15 p.m. and we (me, 6-year-old, 2-year-old) played outside for quite a while as it got dark, enjoying some surprisingly warm weather. Bedtime took forever as usual. At one point, I had the 2-year-old in bed with me and he was wriggling, and I told him he had to go to sleep. He said (I swear) “Mommy, I’m having trouble. Can I just watch my Kindle?” I figured what the hell. So both Friday and Saturday night he fell asleep in his room while watching shows. I know this is not recommended best practices, but it is also no different from what a lot of adults do. Sunday he didn’t take a nap and he fell asleep easily at 7:30 p.m., so I guess that’s our answer. The nap needs to go.
Anyway, Saturday we were up bright and early because my daughter and I were going into NYC to go to the American Girl Place! I had never been there before, despite living in NYC for 9 years, because during my time there, I never had a young girl to take with me. I have long been intrigued by this doll destination. I think I put it on my most recent iteration of my List of 100 Dreams. One of my friends growing up was really into American Girls, and she and I used to look at the catalog, but I never owned any (I have long been fascinated by dolls in general from a collecting perspective — and I hope to create some real miniature rooms a la the ones in the Art Institute of Chicago some time in the future… when I have 28 hours per day. Kidding! Just not a priority right now. Plus, my 2-year-old would wreck them.)
We cashed in some Amtrak points,* and took the 8:20 train (our sitter for the day came at 7:30!) Traveling with a kid has its own nerve-wracking moments. When we were in the Montreal airport last winter, my daughter had fallen on the escalator, which means she’s still wary of them. At one point in the day I was going down an escalator, and thought she was behind me, but she was standing, paralyzed, at the top. Key learning: it is not easy to go up an escalator going down. A woman at the top actually picked her up and put her on the escalator when she saw my struggle. But it’s also really fun to see things through new eyes. My daughter was excited by the concept of a taxi, and even that our driver yelled out the window at someone in another language.
The American Girl Place itself was…oh my. We wandered around looking at all the dolls and accessories and furniture for quite a while. We ate at the cafe, with my daughter’s Samantha doll (who she had brought with her) getting her own seat and cup and saucer. We toasted my daughter’s sixth birthday with orange juice for her and a Bellini for me (I thought it was a nice touch that the American Girl Place cafe bothered to get a liquor license — living in Philadelphia, where the rules on these matters were established by the Quakers in 1750 and haven’t changed since, I do not take these things for granted at all). After, we carefully made our selections: doll #53, who has light brown hair and brown eyes, thus looking the most like my daughter of the various versions. We got a matching outfit for the doll and in size 6 for my daughter, and I ordered the trundle bed she was obsessed with online after the clerk told me there was no way we would get it on the train with us. All told, we got out of there at a lower price point and with less whining than I had steeled myself for. We had had a number of conversations setting expectations about what she could get for her birthday (the trip was her main present), and she seemed to respect that, which may be another sign she’s growing up.
We walked back to the train station, stopping in Bryant Park to put the matching dress on over my daughter’s clothes because she could not wait any more to look like her new doll. On the train ride back to Philly, she had her two dolls, the old one and the new one, sitting on the seats between us, and everyone was very friendly and funny about it (the conductor took my tickets and said, “Now this is for you and the little one, right? What about these other two passengers?” I had to admit they were stowaways!)
We were home by 5 p.m. (when the sitter had to leave), and reunited with the 2-year-old. I managed to get in 2.5 miles on the treadmill while they were watching a show (interrupted once in the middle). Another sign they’re growing up! We did more playing outside, and in the basement, and with the new dolls.
Sunday, I got the two kids ready for church, dropped the 2-year-old off at the nursery, and took my daughter to our rehearsal in the choir loft. I had her in the back watching videos for the practice, but when the service started, she came up front with me and watched the organist play. She has just started piano lessons, so this was pretty cool — he plays what look like piano keys with his feet! We sang our songs, including a descant on Amazing Grace.
In the afternoon, we ran a quick errand to get the kids new shoes (both of theirs were falling apart). The 2-year-old didn’t nap, so other than the shoe run we just played much of the afternoon until my sitter got here a little after 5 p.m., and I went for a 5-mile run. Then I relaxed until the boys came home from Texas at 8:30 p.m. and my husband and I jumped in the car and drove downtown to…the Guns N’ Roses concert.
I hadn’t really let myself look forward to this too much, because their flight could have been delayed (my husband’s office had distributed a group of tickets – so I wouldn’t have gone without him). But we were there in the Wells Fargo center by 9:10. We had somewhat assumed there would be an opening act, but we learned from his colleagues that no, Guns N’ Roses themselves had been playing since 7:45 p.m. Oh well. Even missing the beginning, though, it was a sublime musical experience. Shortly after we got there, Axl Rose introduced his band members, ending with Slash, who started playing a slow electric guitar solo. It went on for a bit, and then morphed into the opening riff of Sweet Child of Mine. Everyone went nuts. Oddly enough, it reminded me of the church organist turning whatever we would sing for the offertory into the doxology. Musicians who know what they are doing are fun to watch in any context. At some point after that, the stage hands wheeled out a grand piano and Axl Rose played the opening of November Rain. The cameras did a lot of close-ups of his fingers on the piano and Slash’s fingers playing the electric guitar. They are such show men — November Rain seems to end, and they took a good long pause before launching into the coda (“don’t you think that you need somebody, don’t you think that you need someone…”) Another moment where everyone was just up on their feet cheering.
We escaped during the encore and made it home by 11:30! Now it’s a rainy Monday — October rain, not November rain, but I will probably have those songs going through my head all day…
*The one upside of my husband’s travel schedule. We also cashed in frequent flyer miles to get the boys to Texas.