Come visit me at http://meaganmcgovern.squarespace.com
So, I wanted to get Mark a TV for his birthday.
Because I want a TV.
In keeping with our "gotta be different" mindset, we have one TV in the house. We got it six years ago from someone who was upgrading to a flatscreen, and they'd had it four or five years, at least. TVs are aging at about the same rate as computers, so our TV is the equivalent of a computer with a floppy drive.
It's enormous. It weighs more than 400 pounds. It's big enough to kill all of our children at once if it falls over. And it sticks out three feet into our play room.
I know, I know. These are not only first-world problems, but whiny, spoiled, elitist problems. But I still have a vision of a flat-screen, fancy, hung-on-the-wall, big-in-a-good-way TV.
However, I also have a vision of a house with no TV in it at all. One where the kids get up in the morning and don't watch Elmo. Where they build forts and play games.
I also have a vision of Mark's face when he realizes that I spent $500 on a "birthday present" for him that he doesn't want, we don't need and we can't afford.
So. Better judgement prevailed. A once-in-a-lifetime thing; too bad, as I could have used my better judgement to get me out of way worse scenarios than this one, you know?
So, what to get Mark?
He doesn't want anything, and if he ever does, he goes and buys it. He has no hobbies except his wife and kids and fixing the house and Boy Scouts. Yeah, I know. He's perfect. I'll get to the blog post at some point about how much fun it is to live with a perfect husband when you, in fact, are decidedly not, and the kinds of therapy you need to deal with it.
In the meantime, Mr. Perfect needs a gift.
So I stole one, shamelessly, from the Internet.
It's free, clever, creative, easy to make, endlessly adaptive and I might get some time alone in bed with my husband out of it. I mean really, what more can you ask for in a present?
Stealing with no compunction at all from Pinterest, but taking away all the cute and finesse and nice touches, and stealing from dating websites where the couples were still in their first year of marital bliss and didn't have to deal with toddlers and babysitters, I came up with a date night jar.
Yep. For my beloved husband's birthday, I gave him a bunch of craft sticks stuck in a Solo cup.
But not just any craft sticks, mind you. These were colored. And cheerful. And they have sharpie written on them.
Red sticks have ideas for stay-at-home dates. Because we even though we have "Get the hell out and I'll see you 2 a.m." tween, we also have Anxiety Boy and Clinging Toddler Girl. And nothing kills romance faster than a hot date where your phone goes off every four minutes with a seven-year-old crying on the other end because he's convinced you're never coming back.
So, for stay-at-home dates, we have ideas like ""1,000 piece puzzle and pizza," or "Foreign movie and back rubs," or "Fondue night" or "Sit outside on blanket and drink wine."
And lest you people laugh at the mundanity of it all, a typical Saturday night without said craft stick would be, "Put kids to bed. One of you watches Saturday Night Live and drinks wine. The other plays on the computer. At some point, watch the SNL news together. One of you thinks this is plenty of foreplay and chat to make up for a week of not finishing up a sentence. The other gets annoyed and needs ten full minutes of conversation before you fall into bed. Probably to sleep."
So you know what? "Sports and nachos" or "Fondue and a chick flick" sounds pretty good. So does "Candle light dinner" and "Backrubs, massage oil and candles."
Then I threw in a bunch of green sticks, for nights when we do get a babysitter, so we don't drive around, looking at each other, and end up at Bookpeople reading magazines and drinking coffee again. Not that it's a bad date. It's just not enough to, you know, help make it through another week.
So these include "Go see the bats," Drive-in movie," "Fancy Hotel Bar," "Whatever Groupon says," "Moonlight swim at Barton Springs" and "Mark picks the movie," among others.
And you know the funny thing? The kids had a fit when I was making these. They demanded their own jar.
We've got slumber parties, cooking dessert, reading books together, a Harry Potter marathon, taking the dog to the lake, a blanket under the stars, going for ice cream, a moonlight swim, playing board games outside and going to the dog park in their cup. They had a blast coming up with things to do, and they can't wait to start choosing. We did yellow for stuff we can do at home, like rent a classic movie they've never seen, and blue for going out -- a pajama ride or a trip to the arcade.
Are these contrived, silly and not necessary if I were a better planner/organizer/more together mom? You bet. In a perfect world, we'd be doing all of these things anyway.
But this is the real world. And in the real world, we're so excited that we made it to Tuesday night or Wednesday night that we just want to get through dinner and bed time, and we sometimes forget that this will be gone before we know it.
And we should be going to Barton Springs to howl at the full moon with out kids. And we should be playing board games on the deck, and we should be having campouts in out playroom, and taking the dog for a swim in the lake. And if it takes a few craft sticks to remind me that I really like my husband, and hey, making dessert with him might be fun, or if it makes Mark and me wake up and remember that our kids are only little once?