Things I Learned on My Babymoon: 7 Quick takes XXXIII

Baby's due in less than three weeks (!) so the husband and I spent last weekend in Santa Barbara. Just us.

It was very fun and very relaxing, and I may have even learned a few things . . .

I spend a lot of time each day planning and preparing food.

I didn't cook a thing all weekend, from dinner Friday night through dinner Sunday, and it's amazing how much time that frees up. With seven people for lunch and eight for dinner everyday, plus breakfast to make sure everyone had and to clean up after, I really do spend a lot of mental and physical energy on food each day.

I don't do much in the way of written meal planning, I mostly try to keep track of upcoming feast days and sporting events and how they'll affect dinners in my head. I keep mental notes on what leftovers we have and if it's enough for a whole dinner or if we'll have to do a leftovers night. My main meal planning is just to know what we're having for dinner by 10am, so I can defrost or crockpot or dough-rise as necessary.

Lunch is usually simple: sandwiches or quesadillas or leftovers, but I need to know if we have a whole loaf of bread or an entire package of tortillas available, because that's about what it takes. And then my kid-helper and I start the big lunch assembly line and make it all and serve it up with fruit or veggies on the side. It's not hard, it just takes planning.

But the whole weekend I didn't have to think about any of that. I didn't have to think about what we'd have and if I had the ingredients and when I needed to start it. I didn't need to know if it had to be eaten at the park during soccer games or at home. I just had to show up and pick something and eat it. And then not even clean up afterwards. Crazy.

I really don't mind the cooking or the planning. I was just surprised to realize how much of my day is usually devoted to it!

The husband and I are not nearly so interesting just on our own.

Honestly, I can't imagine that most celebrities have much on me when it comes to drawing attention when out in public. I'm not dealing with paparazzi (only Anita has that issue), but I cannot go out with six kids in tow (and a visibly pregnant belly!) without being pointed at and counted and whispered about.

St. Francis and the Gubbio wolf on the ceiling of
a building in Old Santa Barbara

I can't think of the last time we were in a store or at church without someone coming up to us to talk. It's almost always positive. (Even when I at first think it's not. After all -- we DO in fact have our hands full, do we not?) But still, there's no such thing as a quick errand. People want to talk to us. And forget about getting out of Mass in a hurry. There is often literally a line up of 3 or 4 people waiting to talk to us after Mass.

So imagine my surprise as I walked unnoticed and uncommented-upon through Santa Barbara for a whole weekend.

St. Barbara medallion over the entrance to a building downtown

After Mass, we just walked out of the church, and NO ONE told us how good we had been in Mass. And I happen to think we had been pretty good.

I miss my kids when I'm not with them.

It was lovely to relax and let go of all my regular daily tasks and responsibilities, but I really do miss having my kids around. They are sweet and loving and fun and hilarious. They are pretty squared-away and I genuinely enjoy their company.

The husband and I kept noticing things that they would have liked, and wishing we could share it with them.

While touring the Santa Barbara Mission I spotted the disembodied wing of a pigeon who had clearly been otherwise eaten by something. All I could think was how Bobby would have really liked it.

And there was not-gross stuff they would have liked too.

I even kind of missed all the busy-work that they require. I like to be busy. I like to feel useful. I like solving problems and accomplishing accomplishments. When I make a whole counter's worth of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, it really feels like an accomplishment. I don't get that same feeling from ordering lunch for myself at a restaurant.

I need to have one-on-one time with my husband anyway.

The flip side of that though, is that I can get caught up in all the busy-ness and accomplishing-of-things to the detriment of my relationship with my husband.

After all, all of these kids are passive mortifications as it were. I didn't choose them, God just keeps sending them my way. But I did choose my husband. And, God willing, I'll have him long after all my children are grown up and out of the house and don't require looking after.

That's why it's such a blessing for us to get away together, even if we miss the kids. We became parents ten months after our wedding, so we haven't had much time to ourselves for the whole of our married lives. Experts talk about toddlers engaging in "parallel play" when they are each doing their own thing side by side but not really interacting. I think that can be a default way of life for busy parents. Even though I am fortunate enough to have a husband who is almost always able to be home with us in the evenings, we are often busy parallel parenting: one getting kids ready for bed, one working on schoolwork or dishes or directing clean-up. Working together, but not necessarily able to really focus on each other.

Date nights and babymoons give us that chance to really engage with each other. And even if we miss our kids, it's important to occasionally get away from the distraction that they are. As it turns out, we have yet to run out of things to talk about. (whew!)

And now, what I learned from this particular location . . .

Santa Barbara keeps its sunsets in the wrong place.

Due to a quirk in the local mountain range, the coastline in Santa Barbara goes east-west instead of north-south. So, when we went for a walk down Santa Barbara's long long wharf on Saturday evening, we knew that the sun would be setting over the mountains behind us, rather than into the ocean in front of us. And it did.

I can't imagine that this will make sense to anyone who doesn't or hasn't lived on the west coast, but I found it very disconcerting. The sun is supposed to set into the water. That's what always happens. To have it set behind me as I looked out over the ocean just felt wrong. No profound insights here. It was just odd.

There are no middle-aged people in Santa Barbara.

I guess they must be somewhere. But I didn't see them. Santa Barbara appeared to me to be completely populated by old people who used to live in LA and really want to tell you about how terrible it was and teenager/twenty-somethings with ironic hats and no shoes on.

Again, no insights. Also just odd.

And here's what my parents learned back home babysitting six kids:

Unlimited access to Halloween candy is a very bad idea. It turns mostly well-behaved children into little monsters. Take note of it people.

Victory Dance St. Michael (what, what)

Thanks so much to Nana and Grandad whose willingness to wrangle six kids and four Saturday sports schedules allowed me to have a lovely time learning all of these silly things. And to my husband for marrying me and co-creating all these terrific little lives and planning such a wonderful trip for us to share.


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And now I'm off to throw a Zombie Apocalypse double birthday party for Bobby and Gus before this baby arrives (hopefully). Come back on Sunday to see how it went . . .

Happy weekend everyone!

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