As a grown-up, I’ve kind of looked down on going to the movies. It’s so expensive, and I think it’s so weird that they show commercials (not just previews) before movies now, and you know, it’s not exactly an interactive activity. But, let’s be honest. I love going to the movies- despite my boring adult-like views. I grew up in a small town so there was never a lot going on and driving a few towns over to see a movie was in some ways a great escape.
And going to the movies holds so many fond memories for me. It might be a passive activity but it really is an opportunity to bond. When my mom and dad celebrated their anniversary each year, they chose to do so as a family, by seeing a movie and going to dinner together. If I try really hard, I can tell you each movie we saw from Gladiator (2001) to Benjamin Button (2008).
During Christmas and summer vacations, those rare occasions when all of us cousins were out of school and together, my dad would always, always take the big group of us out to a movie. We always had to pick something that was suitable for the whole age-range of kids and I will never forget seeing The Cat in the Hat, gosh, maybe in 2003, and how I was so not into the movie, but so very into sitting with my cute kindergartener cousin who had just discovered that her entire fist could fit into her nacho cheese cup.
So. Last Saturday it was 110 degrees, and we all know that the best way to beat that kind of heat is to veg out in a super cold movie theater. I decided to take Rachel to see Brave. (Aren’t the people at Pixar pure geniuses?) We got there early enough to beat the rush of families that would inevitably show themselves later, and this way Rachel got to totally savor the experience. Without the pressure of lines that needed to move along, or crowds that needed to be navigated, she got to tell the woman at the ticket window what movie she wanted to see, she got to give our tickets to the usher (“We got our tickets!” she said as she handed them over), and she even got to place her order at the concession stand. (When the concessioner asked if she wanted a small, medium or large popcorn, Rachel put her finger to her chin and said, “Large!”)
Our girl was so patient as she waited for the movie to start. She ate from her (small) popcorn bag and just waited. Total shocker. She was just so excited for what she knew she was about to witness.
The movie itself was so sweet, essentially about a mother-daughter pair who don’t see eye-to-eye, but due to a series of mystical, magical events are forced to renew their connection. It was a really charming legend of a tale.
By the time it was over the popcorn was gone and Rachel was perched on my lap. More than once she looked up at me and said, “Mom…I like this!” I grinned and nodded then put my finger to my lips. I certainly felt a special bond between us. What an experience to share.
I usually like a cloudless sky, but this sky on Saturday was just incredible: dusk-ish, sunbeams shooting beneath fluffy cloud forms. I drove by – snapped this photo – and thought about how lucky I am. I had that thought quite a bit this weekend. Between all of our activities on Saturday: shopping with Rachel, an afternoon bridal shower, then our much-awaited date night, I thought over and over of how fortunate I am to live this life, to be in this family and live in this city.
Philly gets a bad rap, I think. I give it a bad rap sometimes. Admittedly, it’s been a bit of a love/hate relationship. My first year in this city was pretty lonely in many ways. I was surrounded by lots of people, doing good work, but there was no family around (and no sense of family) and I was slowly, unconsciously losing my sense of self. It was overwhelming.
As I expected myself to be, I was constantly broke, but some days I would have a little extra money in my pocket and I would go to the Spaghetti Warehouse, which was nearby my apartment at the time, and treat myself to lunch. It sounds lame as I’m recounting it now, but something about it reminded me of normalcy with just a splash of indulgence which was a great comfort at the time. I would sit and bask in the anonymity of eating alone and as the waiter would try to hurry me through my meal I’d be sure to consider what I wanted for dessert.
Recently, they closed down the restaurant. I don’t think a single person in Philadelphia was sad about it. There was much speculation as to what the building, a cavernous old warehouse formerly used to house train trestles, would become, and eventually it became a concert venue. And that is where we ended up on Saturday night to see The Heartless Bastards.
Jim made sure to get some gritty pictures:
The place was totally transformed, yet familiar. These pictures are from the cool lobby/bar area, where we hung out for most of the opening acts.
The show itself was absolutely incredible. The Heartless Bastards are actually a band that Jim was introduced to when he saw them live in Portland (the same year as my first year in Philly). It was his own little indulgence in a similarly themed year on the opposite end of the country. We both love this band now, and we both savored the experience. There’s something intimate about seeing live music with a loved one, isn’t there?
We’ll definitely do this more often.
After dinner we ran across the street over to Silk City diner, a beloved Philly landmark even as it’s reinvented itself over time. We ate and talked late into the morning and it was not like old times at all. It was entirely new. We are entirely new. And even though I feel old sometimes and like I’ve been with this man forever, and lived in this city too long, I am still just learning who I am, and we are barely learning who we are as a couple and a family, and the city is giving us ways to learn it and each other anew.
How lucky for all of us.
On Sunday, Rachel and I went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to participate in their Family Studio activity. Family Studio is an awesome program where the museum hosts free family art activities on the first Sunday of the month. Each event has a theme, and this Sunday was inspired by the new Van Gogh exhibit so it was all about painting flowers. Rachel loves painting and loves flowers so I thought this would be just perfect for us.
Can I be honest? It was a little intimidating. It was really well attended, and luckily it was also well-staffed, but still, the amount of people there, and their talent, was kind of overwhelming. It took Rachel a little while to warm up to the room.
While I thought about how great it was for such a program to have high participation, I scanned the room and realized that most of the kids were probably children of artists. Their parents’ artwork was super impressive and their own mini masterpieces were not far behind. (I really didn’t even know that the parents would be participating in the art making!)
Apart from feeling lucky to live in a city that values creativity and so on, I felt like we were a little out of our league. I guess this is part of the enjoyment/challenge of introducing our children to activities that we’re not necessarily skilled at. It was a test to both of our comfort zones. Rachel studied her tablemates’ creations and was reluctant to make one of her own. I encouraged her by doodling just like we do at home. I asked her to take a turn, but she didn’t take to it with the same enthusiasm that she usually does.
She was definitely engaged though. She was observing everything and she really did want to keep pursuing what we were creating on our page, humble as it was. I think she enjoyed watching the bigger artists very much. It made me think of being a little girl when my town’s high school fielded its first softball team. I watched as many of their games as I could. I never wanted to go out there and play with them, but I watched and cheered with dedication.
I think we’ll try attending again, maybe with friends Rachel’s age, maybe a few months from now.
Too much goodness this weekend. Don’t you just love a weekend that’s full and good? A few favorites…
Rachel discovering the Chinese checkers. I used to love playing this game as a kid. I would even play myself sometimes (nerd that I was.)
Pandora Radio and clinking ice cubes as Jim and I enjoyed a night cap on Saturday. It was enough to make us dream of future concert-going plans.
Chicken and barley soup, simmering low and slow. So fragrant and comforting, and perfect to get us through the week.
Honestly? The Ben and Jerry’s Boston Cream Pie Ice Cream that I bought on a whim. I don’t know how they did it, but that pastry cream swirl is unbelievable.
(Another favorite taste: the steel cut oats on Sunday morning. They take forever, but it’s so worth the wait.)
Holding Rachel’s glove with my glove, as we walked around in the sunny cold. I can’t think of anything cuter than her little hands in those purple gloves. I remind myself that a time will come when she won’t need to hold my hand in public, and a time when she certainly won’t want to. When she reaches out and says, Mommy hold?, I treasure the moment, reach my hand out to hers, and silently thank her for not making me ask first.
What are some of your favorites from the weekend?
When my cousins and I were little, we would make Christmas cookies together with my grandma every year. She orchestrated the best cookie decorating sessions – red and green cookie dough, rainbow and chocolate sprinkles, several colors of sanding sugars, and my favorite, red hots. All of us cousins, boys and girls, would meticulously decorate dozens of cookies, sometimes with so much care that we couldn’t bear to eat them. They were little works of art, not to be destroyed.
Eventually it got out of hand and no one wanted to eat the cookies due to the ridiculous amount of sugar adorning them, so we started making more crowd-pleasing chocolate chip cookies instead. It wasn’t the same. Then, at some point we stopped making cookies altogether, partly because we were older and had lost interest, partly because it was a lot of work for my grandma to pull off such magic year after year. We were all kind of sad about it, but it was time.
The first year I had to spend Christmas eve away from my grandma, I mailed her a box of decorated christmas cookies that could be put out on the buffet just like when were kids. This was a few years ago now, so I made the cookies in a crappy apartment kitchen that had about a foot of counter space, and before I had acquired decent baking ware. Without cookie cutters I insanely thought I would just cut out shapes with a butter knife. Even more insanely, I didn’t just cut out shapes, I cut out letters to spell out “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”
All this is just to say that making Christmas cookies is very important to me and I can be a bit irrational about it sometimes. I haven’t folded a bit of laundry all weekend and the toy shelf is empty because all of the toys have been living underneath the couches, for example. But guess who just baked and decorated four dozen Christmas cookies? This lady