At the end of 2018 our lives were crazy and we were stressed. Really stressed. Marriage was hard and parenting was even harder. We felt like we’d lost each other a little. So we decided to commit to one date night a month. Inwardly I worried that we’d make excuses and that we’d let it slip. Now our monthly date has become an island where we are able to find each other and reconnect again. Each month we tried to do something different although one month we did, admittedly, stretch the term date. We write down every date in my journal and try to keep a small keepsake from each date but it doesn’t always happen. Here are our 12 dates of 2019. I’ll share links to some things so that you can enjoy them too and even score them so you know what my favorites were. (The Hubs claims that they were all equally good but I suspect that’s because I woke him to ask what his favorites were. Haha!)
1) January: King Cake night! This is the date that kicked it off and it was 100% my husband’s creation. For those of you who don’t live in areas where King Cakes are made, you’re missing out. You can read more about them here. These tasty confections are a South Louisiana girl’s dream and every year we happily go straight from Christmas to King Cake season. This year, The Hubs and I did something we’d never done before. We MADE ONE! It was most definitely not from scratch. We used this great Mam Papaul’s mix. It was fun to make and pretty tasty even though ours was ugly compared to what the professionals do. Date score: 9/10 Messy, funny, inexpensive, and TASTY
2) February: Fancy Meat and Cheese Night. This one should probably be called tapas night or something fancy but that doesn’t really seem to fit. During this time I was still weird about letting the girls stay with people and we didn’t have a lot of money so we had our date night at home. We ate cheese, crackers, olives, fancy meats, and chocolates just like we were at a nice restaurant. Except we were home. Of all of our date nights, this one was the most laid back. We asked each other random weird questions that we found online and laughed at the poems on our chocolate wrappers. Date Score: 7/10 It was yummy and relaxing but ended up being just as expensive as going out to eat. I’d do it again though.
3) March: Charity Auction. I have had the extraordinary privilege this year to begin working with McMains Children’s Developmental Center as part of my work at the museum. These amazing folks do God’s work every day and I recommend that everyone take a minute to learn more about them. I’ve never worked with such a large group of kind hearted, creative, and dedicated people in my life and it’s truly been a blessing. The team at McMains has helped us to make our museum more inclusive for all children regardless of their abilities. They’ve helped to train staff and even made their own adaptive solutions to some areas of the museum to ensure that all children get a chance to play. The wonderful ladies at McMains invited The Hubs and I to their annual fundraiser and we jumped on the opportunity. There were fun games, amazing food, a live auction, and a silent auction. We left with full bellies, big smiles, and a nice bottle of whiskey. Date score: 10/10 Partying for a great cause AND eating amazing food? Count me in!
4) April: Jazz Fest! We love Jazz Fest in New Orleans and do our best to go every two years if not every year. This year we went to see Van Morrison. His performance was to be expected after all his years of touring but the overall experience was great. My Mom and Bonus Dad joined us and The Hubs and I tried a ton of different foods. I also stepped out of my comfort zone and wore a very skimpy top but I’ve already told that story in The Mom in The Mirror.Date Score: 8/10 The Food was great, the weather was nice but the music was…meh.
5) May: Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats This was hands down one of my favorite experiences of 2019. The music was amazing and the venue was beautiful. Shout out to my Aunt for making seeing one of our favorite bands possible. We danced and sang during the entire concert and enjoyed a night away from the kids. Date score: 10/10 This one was a blast and such a nice change of pace for us.
6) June: Beach Walking/ Getting Lost in Mississippi Okay so this one is an odd one because technically our kids were there but we considered it a date for two reasons. One, we were on a beach vacation. (Thanks to Dad and my Bonus Mom!) Two, despite having the kids, we felt that we were able to connect and spend quality time together and that’s the whole point of our date night commitment. We love taking long car rides together so the getting lost part was fun. The beach at night was so much fun to share with out big kids. They needed quality time with us without their sisters around and we were happy to have the opportunity to give it to them. Date score: 10/10 I know I speak for all of us when I say we wouldn’t have changed a single thing about any of it.
7) July: My High School Reunion Woo buddy! This was a fun one! I wrote all about my school when it happened and you can read about it here. I got super drunk at the reunion and the hubs had to take care of me. Bless his heart he dealt with my butt all night. He even bought me Whataburger on the way home because he loves me. Date Score: 6/10 I had a blast but my poor husband had to baby sit all night.
8) August: Adult Trip to New Orleans As a grown up I still feel super special and adult when I get to hang out with my parents and the friends who helped raise me. So it was awesome when we got to head down to New Orleans for a night to celebrate my brother’s 21st birthday with my brother, Mom and Bonus Dad, and the Ya-Ya’s. We had our palms read by a fortune teller, ate dinner AND breakfast without children yelling at us, and had a blast. Extra shout out to my dear friends who watched the twins for us. Date score: 10/10 WE GOT AWAY FROM THE KIDS FOR 24 HOURS! That alone makes it awesome but the company was great too.
9) September: Rhett and Link This date was another gift courtesy of my Aunt. We had the opportunity to see the hosts of YouTube show Good Mythical Morning live. It was pretty neat even though we were almost an hour late. #traffic The Hubs introduced me to the show when we first got together and I’ve since grown to be a fan myself. It was cool to see them live although the show was less like their regular shows than we’d expected. Date score: 4/10 This was probably my least favorite date of the year but only because the others were so awesome. It was nice to have time together but I think our favorite part was the car ride haha!
10) October: Ramen Night October’s date night was desperately needed. We were stressed and cranky and arguing a lot. I wasn’t in a good place mentally. We finally realized that we needed an emergency date. We called up a good friend of mine to watch the twins and set out to try a new Ramen restaurant. If you get the chance to try Jinya Ramen Bar DO IT! Wow! The food was so amazing! The service was great too! The best part of the date was that we recognized that we needed time together and made it happen. We even banned all talk of work from dinner. It was an amazing decision that ultimately helped me to realize that I was focusing too much on work and not enough on my personal growth. Date score: 11/10 This date gets a bonus point because it had lasting effects on our marriage, not to mention good food.
11) November: Phil’s Oyster Bar We we’re both excited to try another new restaurant after our October date so we have Phil’s Oyster Bar a shot. The food was incredible and we enjoyed some quiet time away from the rapidly approaching chaos of the holidays. It wasn’t an earth shaking date or particularly adventurous but we enjoyed the time. Date score: 5/10 Good food, nice night, but not my favorite.
12) December: Dinner, A Movie, and Games This was a fun date for several reasons. My Mom and Bonus Dad took the kids while we went to the movies for the first time in like a year. We saw Knives Out and both enjoyed it. Then we ate some tasty Tex Mex and went home to play games. He introduced me to a new game and we played our new favorite board game, The Game of Life: Quarter Life Crisis. If you’re a millennial and/or struggling with debt I recommend getting this game. It’s a hilarious reminder that it could be worse. It was nice to connect and focus on something different to round out our year. One of the best parts of the date was that it only cost us 40 cents. We used gift cards for the rest of the date. Yay Christmas Gifts! Haha! Date score: 10/10 We managed to pack so much into this date and do it without worrying about money. We had time to connect and have fun.
As I was writing about our dates I was able to put into perspective how much our family and friends have helped us to make monthly date nights possible. We couldn’t have done most of these things without them. We also really love making food a date night priority haha! It’s the south though and food is what brings people together. I can’t wait for our 2020 dates. I’d love to see your date ideas in the comments below.
Happy New Year Mom Van Riders! Thanks for taking this journey with me and my crazy family. I can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for us!