In case you haven’t heard, Houston had some epic, devastating rain this past week. Thankfully our little home was spared everything but puddles perfect for splashing. Leila splashed down one line of puddles, then another. Then she splashed along our walk to the park to explore the high water. I have this distinct memory of going out after a heavy rain to check out the flood waters. An odd memory to recollect with fondness, but it came back to me with such nostalgia on Monday afternoon. There is so much of her childhood that is filled with experiences different from those of our own, it was nice to share this one.
I’ve pondered the concept of date nights in this space before. (Specifically here and here, if you’re curious.) Then a few weeks ago I was reading my favorite blog when I read a post that inspired me to finally take definitive date night action – a whole year of them. Ben’s birthday was right around the corner, so it seemed like the perfect time to coordinate such a feat. I began brainstorming, and a spreadsheet. But there were two glaring roadblocks that needed to be addressed first. I started with the first, babysitting. I did the math and figured that if each set of grandparents and aunts and uncles took two months I’d be covered, so I sent an email asking if that in lieu of a traditional birthday gift the grandparents/aunts/uncles would offer their babysitting services for this grand birthday gift. Then I worked on the second, budget. Having a child has been a gateway to discovering all the amazing free things in our city so I was pretty confident I could rock 12 dates on a tight budget. I set it at $25/date. I’m ambitious like that.
The emails came in, the Google searches returned great ideas and this is what I came up with:
(Sidenote: We did this last Saturday, and it was amazing! Ben and I were long overdue for time doing something new together. It had been over a decade since I rode a bike, but after rediscovering the hand-brakes I got in a groove and it was such a fun (and beautiful) way to see Houston. This year of dates might also do wonders for my rocky relationship with this city.)
June: Finally see Jurassic World at Discovery Green.
July: A Friday night moonlight cruise on Lady Bird Lake.
August: Crossing Killen’s BBQ off our bucket list.
October: An afternoon of beer and bocce ball at the Brooklyn Athletic Club.
November: Live storytelling at The Moth. (We might even get brave and throw our names into the hat.)
December: An evening of Christmas cheer at the iconic Lights in the Heights.
February: Open Mic night at Rudyard’s Pub, a nod to our first Valentine’s date together.
Once I got going the list just kept growing, so I’ve started a second for “family dates” this summer…
Last summer my sister-in-law to inspired me to piecemeal a bucket list, of sorts. Then in the fall I attempted something more formal. Shortly before Leila’s first spring break something between need and hope motivated me to create yet another one for this brief hiatus from our usual schedule. I thought an activity-a-day would help provide the necessary motivation to get us out of pajamas each day without overwhelming us. And I wanted some inexpensive fun to balance the long list of work I had to do throughout the week.
On the first Friday afternoon of the break we went to the Children’s Museum, which is always at the top of the request pile.
Saturday was a spring festival at Grandpa’s church followed by a celebration of all the March birthdays.
Sunday we went to see a performance of Junie B. Jones: The Musical by Main Street Theater, and on Monday Leila went with Daddy to Bayou Bend while I taught yoga and got started on some work.
Tuesday was disc golf and lunch with Daddy and Grandpa, and Wednesday I got to take her to the rodeo. It was extra special because we took the train there. The whole car ride (because this is Houston, and you have to drive to park and ride the train) Leila and I sang, “Adventure Day!” to the tune of the Superman theme song.
Thursday Leila went to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, but before she left I used the holiday as an excuse to get a green smoothie in all of us.
Friday we went to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, ate a food truck lunch in the sculpture garden and watched The Love Bug. Leila fell asleep in my arms during the movie, her legs dangling almost the length of the next seat and her head falling off the other side. Her poor body was running a fever and finally was too tuckered to keep going. We snuck out of the movie early and went home to eat popsicles and rest.
Leila recouped with Daddy on Saturday so I could do some yoga training and everyone would be ready to celebrate the first day of Nowruz on Sunday.
Despite all the sickness (Ben was down for a day too) and the busyness of my work and training, we managed to sneak in a decent amount of fun and memories. It is daunting to create a bucket list because it creates opportunity to fall short. However, I am realizing the reward in intentionality.