Friday miscellany: Artsy date nights, artsy elementary school exhibits, phones, and book happenings

A few notes from the last week…Last weekend went surprisingly well. I say surprisingly because we’ve had some rough weekends of late. The kids don’t want to do anything, and I’m in planning fatigue mode again, and so everyone sits around and bickers. The 3-year-old has been tough, as usual. The other night our alarm system went off at 10:30 p.m., and my husband and I went downstairs to see what was going on. The back door was open. The little guy was standing outside with a “look what I just did” expression. Yep, our alarm is not so much for keeping people out as keeping certain people in.

Anyway, we had booked a sitter from roughly 4-7:30 p.m. on Saturday to go to a lawn party. Then the party was canceled because of the non stop rain. So my husband and I decided to do an impromptu date night. It was such a good one that I almost feel cheated that I didn’t get to spend several days anticipating it.

We raced down to the Barnes Foundation, arriving at 4:30 p.m. and knowing they closed at 5. We didn’t have time to read about each of the paintings, so we just gawked at all the Renoirs, Matisses, Van Goghs, Picassos, etc., interspersed with Barnes collection randomness (e.g. door parts, turquoise jewelry). Sometimes it’s nice to do a museum that way!

Right before the sitter showed up, I had looked at Open Table to see what was available, and lo and behold, Talula’s Daily Secret Supper Club — rapidly becoming our favorite restaurant — had a spot at 5:30! I grabbed it. Nothing like seeing great art, enjoying a 5-course seasonal menu, and then being home in time to put the kids to bed so they weren’t too whiny about the whole thing. My husband ordered an entire bottle of pink cider (pictured).

Then I got up the next morning at 6:50 a.m. and went for a lovely run outside. It was steamy but nice. After church, we opened up the pool and went in! With temperatures climbing to 82 degrees, the cold water (and it was cold!) felt pretty good.

Then I was off to the airport to get on a flight to Chicago. There were delays. Both ways. Good times.

Other highlights: I bought new furniture for the living room/family room as part of our renovation. The designer came and staged everything this week, so my living room is finally looking more like I’d like it to. I know that my new linen chair and my sectional sofa will eventually have orange juice spilled on them, but I was tired of having old, beaten up furniture exuding the “still in grad school” vibe.

Another highlight: the fifth grade art show! At my kids’ school, the fifth graders all choose an artist and either reproduce a work, or do a work in the style of the artist. My 11-year-old did a self-portrait by Frida Kahlo. I have to say, this was on the more difficult side to emulate (vs. something more abstract) but we were all happy with how it turned out. (Follow me on Instagram, @lvanderkam, to see a photo of it)

Speaking of the 11-year-old, we did get him a phone for his birthday. I wrote a little essay about kids and screen time that I just learned will be the cover story for the Weekly Standard next week. Fun.

My choir had its last Thursday night rehearsal the other day. This was a not insignificant time commitment this year — 2 hours on Thursday nights, and 2 hours on Sunday mornings most weeks — but it has been worth the time. The good news is that thanks to my time-tracking, I knew I did have space. My Thursday nights weren’t being spent on anything particularly memorable. Except before book launches, I’m not working extreme hours. I spend gobs of time with my kids. I could fit this in. And so I did! I look forward to it re-starting next fall, though my director just announced that he’s re-auditioning all the sopranos so…wish me luck on that.

And some good wishes for the book launch would be appreciated too. I’m thrilled with some early publicity. Modern Mrs. Darcy, for instance, listed it as one of two non-fiction books to put you in a summer reading mood.

Here are some videos I made about the book! (One, two, and three).

Off the Clock will be out May 29 in the US and Canada. If you pre-ordered, your retailer will most likely ship it to be available on Tuesday. If you ordered an e-book version, it should appear in your e-reader on Tuesday. The audio book will be available on Tuesday, but since those can’t be pre-ordered, there hasn’t been a link. Audio retailers should have that available on the 29th.

At least in the US/Canada market. I have been getting a number of emails from UK and Australian readers pointing out that it won’t be available in those markets until August, and they’re getting a bit annoyed with my “Tuesday is the day!” emails. I’m sorry. I’ll do something for the UK/Australian launch too — book publishing has an interesting territorial system where rights are sometimes sold separately. Feel free to email me if you’d like to learn more (lvanderkam at yahoo dot com) or if you have ideas for UK/Australian publicity.

US readers, have a great Memorial Day weekend. I’ll be back here early next week!

6 thoughts on “Friday miscellany: Artsy date nights, artsy elementary school exhibits, phones, and book happenings

  1. Thanks for bringing Open Table to my radar. I just signed up and look forward to being able to make reservations that way–so much easier and time efficient than phone calls.

    Amazon says that I’ll have your new book at my house on the 29th. After reading Chapter 1, I’m excited to read more.

  2. I’m loving the preview of Off the Clock! We are moving next week, and both my kids will be in school full time with a school bus (!!!!!) in the fall, so I’m looking forward to going into that new period with a plan for making the most of my extra time. I started time-tracking yesterday, as I couldn’t wait until Monday to do it 🙂

  3. Laura, for moments like you had with the alarm, we actually had chain link locks installed at the top of all our doors – like you said, to keep small people in, not to keep big people out. They were lifesavers/anxiety-reducers when the kids were younger! We only got the idea from the people who had previously owned our home!

  4. I really enjoyed the Weekly Standard essay–I thought it was very thoughtful and brought up many good points that I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere.

    Also looking forward to reading Off the Clock! I’m on hold for it at my library.

    1. @Caitlin – so glad you liked the essay. Yep, trying to stir the pot a bit! I hope you enjoy Off the Clock.

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