Sunday, January 8, 2012

12 Dates of Christmas- Recap

Dustin and I had the ambitious goal of going on twelve dates through the holiday season...And we did it!



...If you expand the definition of the word "date" to include any time Dustin and I are together with fewer than 4 other people present. Bonus points for leaving the house!

I'm kidding, a little. Sure, the ideal goal would be "real dates"- a night out with only the two of us, a fancy dinner, and maybe a movie, or some other fun activity. But with a newborn around, and a hectic holiday schedule, we had to be a little more flexible. So we did our best to prioritize time together, whenever, wherever, and however we could. Here's the official rundown (with a few grainy iphone pics for good measure):

1: Kroger run
A trip to the grocery store may not be your idea of a date, but as it was our first outing sans baby, it totally counts. Dustin and I got a little stir-crazy the weekend of Thanksgiving, so we took advantage of being at my parents house and bailed on the little one for a quick shopping trip. Not the most glamorous activity, but after three weeks with a baby carrier constantly in tow, it was refreshing to get out as a couple. Dustin even humored my request to pose with the Yuengling display (now available in OH-IO!) And afterwards we stopped at Burger King for frozen Cokes. If that's not a quality date ingredient, I don't know what is.

2: Shopping & Sonic
After our wild first date, we wanted to keep the streak alive, so we headed out to Motherhood Maternity, to pick up some nursing attire! So again, before the baby, I wouldn't count this as date (ok, before the baby, I wouldn't go there, date or no date) but since it was just the two of us, and Dustin was so sweet to go on such a lame errand with me, I'm counting it. Plus- we went to Sonic on the way home to stuff our faces with yummy burgers, cheesy tots and strawberry limeaids. I hate to make food the sole date-qualifier, but let's face it...we do love to eat. I'll try to overlook the fact that we were held to a strict timeline due to Piper's eating schedule, which forced us to get our food to go, and hurry home. The brightside is Dustin was able to support me during an emotional outing (no one likes clothes shopping 3 weeks postpartum, right?) and we had a bit of time just the two of us, during what was otherwise a very baby and family intensive weekend.

3: Qdoba lunch
Our offices are near (in my case directly above) a Qdoba, so Dustin and I have shared quite a few lunches there over the past few years. During the end of my pregnancy, as I got a bit more needy (for attention, and queso) we were going almost every week- usually for $1 Taco Tuesdays! Now that I'm on maternity leave, Piper and I occasionally get out to meet him for lunch, and Q is typically still our spot of choice. We've been a few times now, but the first "date" here was right after Piper's one month doctor appointment. We probably broke all the date rules by talking about our daughter the whole time, but it was still a milestone for us. It was our first workday lunch as a family (though she slept the whole time), and gave us a glimpse into the possibility that we could have a baby totally rock our world, but still keep one or two routines from our "old" life too.

4: Chick-fil-A dinner
Are you tired of the fast food yet? We weren't! So I met Dustin after work one night for a romantic (ok, not really) meal. Again Piper slept, so we were able to enjoy our waffle fries in peace while we talked about Christmas plans. There might not have been candlelight, but there were poinsettias! Oh, the ambiance.

5: Michael's Pizza
One Friday, Piper and were checking out a yoga studio near Dustin's office, so we took the opportunity to meet him for a post workout lunch. We were all Q'd out, so we mixed it up and went to a local pizza joint. We got to discuss Dustin's job a bit, which was a nice change from all the diaper talk we've been doing lately. Any chance we get to have a non-parenting centered conversation is a good thing. And if it involves pizza, all the better.

6: Sample Sale & Sushi
One of the big perks of working in retail is the discount, but even better than that, is the annual sample sale, where we can score sweet deals on clothes...and this one was right before Christmas, so it was the perfect time for us to get some last minute shopping done. And the extra bonus is that it fell on a night that a restaurant near our warehouse offers half price sushi. So we decided to make a evening of it. We shopped our hearts out, which we actually ended up having to do separately...apparently the company doesn't feel too safe about letting an infant hang out around the conveyor belts and loading docks...weird, I know. So we took turns watching Piper, which cut into our date night plans a bit...but we made up for it by eating a crazy amount of sushi. And sipping out of our straws all fancy-like. You know, like you do on a date.

7: Panera & the mall
After our first morning back at church (yes, it took us a full six weeks or so to get back in the groove...I'm pretty sure God understands) we headed out for a cozy lunch at a former favorite- Panera. (we spent every Monday night there for a few years straight when we were leading Young Life). After filling our bellies, we hit up the mall to find some new jeans for me (I'm realizing at this point that Dustin is pretty much a saint to put up with this caliber of "dates"...I guess if you keep him well fed, he'll be pretty accommodating).

8: RedBox Movie Night
A non-food date! Imagine that! After a marathon trip to the grocery store, we decided on a whim to rent a movie and I chose Crazy Stupid Love. I thought we might have to turn it off during the first ten minutes, as Dustin's man-crush on Ryan Gosling almost grew out of control (I thought maybe they were going to go on a date!), but we ended up loving it. It may be a while before we get out to the theater again, so settling down to enjoy a movie at home, uninterrupted was a delightful little luxury for us at this point.

9: Breakfast with Santa, Stocking Shopping, and Five Guys Lunch
We already detailed our morning with the Claus, but the fun didn't stop there. I dragged Dustin to no less than three stores to find new Christmas stockings (fun date right?!), and we picked up a few gifts for family. By the time lunch rolled around it had already been a pretty long day, so we were thankful for the break to sit for a bit, shell some peanuts, and indulge in some deliciously greasy burgers. Our little peanut didn't seem to mind the pit stop either.

10. The Company Holiday Party
Ok folks, this one is the real deal. A full night out- just us, no baby. There were drinks (alcoholic ones even!), food and yes...dancing. It doesn't get date-ier than that. It was our first time leaving Piper with someone other than my mom, and the very first time someone else would attempt to feed her. We were really worried we wouldn't both be able to go, and had planned an elaborate trade off scheme, where Dustin would go early, and I would stop by later and hand Piper off to him. But as much as we wanted to party with our coworkers, we really wanted to have a night together, so thankfully, our friend Rachel offered to watch Piper and give us a chance to celebrate as a duo. I think I was supposed to be nervous about my daughter's first night with a sitter, but I was so excited for a night "on the town" that I dropped her off and didn't look back. (I mean, I was only going to be gone for a couple of hours, and Rachel has three kids...Piper's actually better off in her hands anyway!) It ended up being a totally awesome night. I got to catch up with a ton of my coworkers, eat a bunch of previously off-limits foods (pregnancy no-no's like soft cheese and fancy meats) and I even indulged in two- TWO!- alcoholic drinks. In typical Bowden fashion, Dustin and I danced until our feet fell off (ok, until my feet fell off- I had heels on! I'm telling you, this was a big night out) and really just had a blast. I did feel a little like Cinderella though, as I had to cut the night a bit shorter than I would have liked. Rather than turning into a pumpkin at midnight, I turned back into a mom around 9:30. I had to retrieve my daughter, and wrap the night up by pumping milk and washing bottles. But oh, was it glorious while it lasted. (Did I mention Dustin wore a tie? We really went all out here...)

11. Saladworks
At this point it was a few days after Christmas, so we were getting down to the wire on the twelve date timeline. And this one is a reeeeeeal reach as far as dates go. I encouraged Dustin to get out of the house to grab salads not really because I wanted to go on a date, but mostly because I had reached my limit on ham. The two of us were so tired from all the holiday festivities and traveling, that we barely talked. But we shared our salads. So it counts. Small victories, people. (and in my defense, we had actually planned a pretty elaborate date for our last day in Philly, but bailed to spend more time with family and friends instead. Although I'm not sure anyone would have protested too much had we gone on our date and left the baby with them. After all, things are pretty much all about her these days.)

12. Red Robin
I'm not going to lie, in some ways this last date was pretty much the equivalent of a concluding paragraph in a high-school essay: A bit of filler just to meet the required word count. It was the Monday after New Year's, and Dustin's last day off of work. We had a great week and a half off together, and I was dreading him going back, so I was in a bit of a funk all day. I was stressed about doing something fun. In my mind, we HAD to do something fun, or else the whole vacation was ruined. RUINED! But the feeling of the "countdown" was ironically ruining my motivation, so as much as I felt the pressure to live it up, I didn't actually want to do anything. I was creating a no-win situation for myself, feeling like a failure if we didn't complete our official twelve dates, but acting so cranky that I have no idea why Dustin would want to go on a date with me anyway. And if that wasn't enough, I was so frustrated with Piper that day, her schedule was all out of whack, and it seemed impossible for us to even leave the house, so I was moping around feeling sorry for poor old "about to be by myself with the baby again, and we didn't even complete our dates, lame-o" me. But Dustin knows my heart, and saw through all the junk that I had barely even gotten to verbalize, and offered to take me out to lunch. I fed Piper, and we each got the shortest showers ever to maximize our "free-time" window while she napped. We opted for an old favorite- Red Robin, and with our moods significantly improved, we attempted to keep the conversation as "us" centered as possible. We chatted about exercise goals, our new small group study, and work concerns. It wasn't a monumental day for any reason, but we managed to prioritize spending time together in a simple, but special way.

Squeezing in twelve dates in just over a month required a bit of planning and some creativity, but I'm happy we did it. Like so many things, we can occasionally luck into our goals, but it's important to me to put the time and effort into living deliberately. We're still settling into to what it means to be mom and dad, and it's far too easy to forget that we are still husband and wife. So while I don't think it's reasonable for us to go on several dates each week all the time (to be honest, we'll be lucky if we get that opportunity several times a month) focusing special attention on each other, and prioritizing our relationship is definitely something I want to make not only a tradition, but a habit.

1 comment :

  1. Hey, I think it sounds like they were all legit dates. The whole notion of putting your marriage first and making sure it gets focused on and prioritized is such a seasoned couple move. As in, for a young couple who just had their first baby you guys are pretty good at this! You sound like old hats!

    You're doing such a great job!