Tag Archives: relationship

Romantic Dinner for Two: Where Reality & Romance Collide

Did you ever try to celebrate Valentine’s Day on a budget?

My budget includes borrowing art supplies from my children and crafting a card that would rival any second grade artist, but I wanted more for this year’s love fest.

I asked myself if I could make a romantic dinner for two at home, after tucking the kids snugly in their beds. Sounds budget-friendly and doable in theory, but allow me to demonstrate a real-life romantic dinner at home.

valentine's day romantic dinner for two at home with the kids: love birds

5:30 pm – Throw several dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets in the oven, rescue favorite stuffed animal from the grasp of the dog’s jaws, inspect and sign homework papers, and throw the clean laundry into the dryer. Take the dog outside because she’s chewing on your slippers. Answer the phone.

6:00 pm – Get OFF the phone and scrape all black residue from the chicken nuggets. Serve your kids dinner.

6:30 pm – Listen to reading homework; make sure the kids shower and brush their teeth; do the dishes; don’t kill the dog; go to the bathroom.

8:00 pm – Assign your daughter the job of setting a ‘fancy’ table. Make her promise not to lick each fork to remove dishwasher spots. Send your husband down to the corner market to get the cashews for the cashew chicken.

8:30 pm – Tuck your kids into bed, and take a much-needed shower. Put the dog in her crate so she doesn’t push the bathroom door open and run off with your clean underwear.

8:40 pm – Tame your hair, paint your face, and dress in the first clean outfit hanging in your closet.

8:55 pm – Snack on the burnt crisps leftover from the kid’s nuggets.

9:00 pm – Start cooking. Again.

9:30 pm – Serve a lovely cashew chicken dinner minus the cashews, because apparently there was a run on cashews this afternoon.

9:40 pm – Light the candles and take out the crying dog.

9:45 pm – Just as your husband leans into the flickering light of the candles to smooch your lips, the dog freaks out because your neighbor decides he’s going to shovel the sidewalk. Save the kiss for later and grab the dog before she wakes up your kids.

9:47 pm – Too late. The kids filter through to use the bathroom and get a drink. It’s an emergency, of course. You can faintly see symptoms of dehydration in their eyes. Let them taste your cashew-less chicken.

9:55 pm – Explain the importance of alone time between parents and threaten their lives with ten years of morning-til-night homework, year-round school, and a chore list that stretches to New Jersey and back.

10:00 pm – Throw out the cold chicken and go straight to dessert. Assure your spouse that yawning and drooping eyelids are the latest signs of true love.

Reality says, when you have children, romantic dinners at home do not work. My heartfelt advice to you is, forget the budget and GO OUT. Beg your parents, friends, coworkers, family, neighbors, and the teenagers next door to watch your kids for a few hours. Even if you have no money, go sit in the car (without the kids) and steam up the windows. Just get out of the house!


Summer Camp ~ History in the Making

When I think of summer camp, visions of team sports, horseback riding, swimming, and muddy clothes fill my mind with bad memories, but today there are as many varieties of summer camp as there are flavors of ice-cream.

Last year, my son’s history teacher sent us a letter saying she’d like to pay for my son to attend history camp at a historical site in our town.  How sweet is that?  Of course I said yes with thanks.  That camp impressed me so much that I determined to send both my children this year.

The camp is only one week long, but my kids were able to make woolen pot holders, marble paper and make journals, write with quill pens, basket weave, craft Indian corn dolls, weave rope, and turn flax into long strands of hair.  Well, they used it as hair and I must say, it definitely has the texture and feel of hair, at least my hair hair on humid summer day.

They also learned many valuable lessons about early American history.

General Herkimer's Home

They hauled water from the springhouse, built a fire and cooked a stew for lunch.  From scratch…they actually went to the garden and picked potatoes and vegetables for their soup.  They learned how to weave fabric, how food was grown and preserved, and how the pioneer children lived.  They even marched the kids in military drills.

On Monday morning each of the children were given an outfit to wear for the week.  The girls wore long cotton skirts, an apron, and a bonnet.  The boys had a loose-fitting, very thin, linen shirt and a hat.  All the kids used haversacks to store the items they made.

On Friday night all the parent’s gathered for closing ceremonies.  The little pioneers played a song on a their penny whistles and awards were given for outstanding achievement.

I really appreciate that they singled children out for specific accomplishments.  Today awards and rewards mean so little, because often all children are awarded for participation and not necessarily achievement.  I think awards for achievement help motivate kids to do better.

FringeKid won the Historian Award.  One of the two highest achievements.

Every day last week temperatures soared between 97 and 100 degrees.  My children were able to experience true-to-life days of the pioneers.  I’m sure it’s an experience they won’t soon forget.

How about you?  Did you go to camp when you were a child?  Have you sent your kids to camp?

Tell us about your/their experience.

Devil Dog On My Porch – Dream Houe, Part 5

“Really?  The house is still standing?”  John asked into the phone with me hanging on his shoulder listening.

“Ok, we’ll be up on Saturday morning.”  He hung up the phone.

We both sat with a thump.  Shaking out heads in disbelief, we kept murmuring, I can’t believe the house didn’t fall.

Finally I grasped that our entire porch, the porch that wrapped around two full sides of our house fell to the ground.

“The porch is what sold me on the house.”  I said as if it mattered.


Ice built on the roof, slipping between the porch and the house, finally tearing the porch from the house.  I just couldn’t believe ice could take down a porch large enough to simultaneously hang a hammock on, host a dinner party on, and cultivate a flower pot garden on.

I underestimated the ferocity of a Maine winter.  By the time my blood thickened to ice-crystals and snow covered my first floor windows, I had learned my lesson well.

Unearthing the house from the collapsed porch was worse than the fact that it fell.  We didn’t need more work!

In our early days of home repair, we hadn’t learned the trick, “If something is destroyed, cover it and begin again.”  No, we stripped the house naked, redressing her in lovely layers of new.  We left nothing of her old self except her bones.

Aviation cable pulled the second floor peak to a semi-straight tilt.  We jacked first floor beams to an almostbutnotevenclose to level.  We replaced windows.  We removed ceilings and let Hedgehog nests rain on our heads.  Neighbor’s cheered when the old chimney fell.  We pulled up two hundred years of cat-pee soaked flooring.  Our hands filled until nails, insulation, and siding ran into the street.

One long evening, my cousin and I sat on the second story floor playing cards while we waited for John to return with building supplies.  The entire front of the house was removed.  From our interior post on the floor,  we talked to people in the street passing by.

Nothing halted our determination.  Not even hunger, although I consistently begged for lunch breaks.  For the longest time we had no water in the house.  We took no showers over the weekend.  We worked.  We caught rain water to brush our teeth.  We trudged through miles of muddy field, cutting through a patch of woods to use a port-a-potty at the baseball field.  We worked, always holding the hope that one day we would rebuild the porch to its original shabbiness grandness.

I regret we never did.

We did build a little half porch/stoop in the front of the house.  I obsessed over every floorboard we cut and nailed.  I wanted to seal the wood in a clear water sealant, so we could enjoy the pureness of a porch.  John and I even worked in socks to keep a mud-free porch-ette.

Mud is a season in Maine.  When the snows melt, you’re up to your armpits in mud.  Maine mud can consume cars, small children, and possibly pets.  It’s not to be taken lightly.  Mud season found us laying a porch.

Every board was perfect, clean, and waiting sealer when an old woman and her dog rounded the corner, heading right for our house.  We put down our hammers and nails, ready for a break and friendly chat.

I stood regally as a dirty, smelly woman could stand, waiting to receive visitors, but before I could yell GETYOURMUDDYBEASTAWAYFROMMYPORCH!!!, her devil dog jumped, planting all four muddy paws on my sacred floorboards.  Clear became opaque as mud splattered my socks and sent my nerves into an IwannakillsomeoneNOW frenzy.

“You may as well go back to where you came from.”  The voice of the devil dog’s mother said.  “You won’t like it here anyway.”

Her disturbing words broke my death gaze from her dog.  An old woman stood before me adorned in at least ninety years of meanness.

I only had one other conversation with her.  She and her devil broke loose when I was planting flowers on the hill just below my once grand porch.  She stopped long enough to frown at my dirt covered front and say, “You must like to be dirty.  I hate dirt under my fingernails.”

The walking piece of unlovable female history and her devil were known far and wide in our region.  Not long after our second collision of personaltities, she was found alone in death.  Rotting too long in her home before someone finally found her.

Till today I regret my short encounters with this old woman.  Although mean as a nest of scorpions, she was alone in life and death.