Date Night With Oysters

Since the day we've been married, Craig and I have carved out time for just the two of us. "Date night" has been a super important aspect of our marriage.

Lately, when we have date night, (we try to have an evening alone at least once a month, more if our schedule allows) we send Murray somewhere overnight, slip into comfy clothes, and cook something fabulous in the comfort of our own kitchen.  Then we spend the evening sharing delicious food, wine, conversation, a movie or mean game of Scrabble or Rummy.

But we do love to treat ourselves to dinner out once in a while.  Ruth's Chris Steakhouse is one of our favorites, as well as Axel's, but since we don't have either restaurant here in Moorhead, we have to get creative.  Thankfully, that's not hard to do.  Little ol' Moorhead, MN has some gems for fine dining.

Sarello's, a tiny, exclusive Italian reservation-only restaurant is where Craig took me on our third date.  Usher's House, which has great food and a fabulous view of the river, is another favorite.  But, hands down, the best restaurant (in our opinion) in Moorhead is John Alexander's

Last night we got dressed up, dropped off little guy, and off we went.  Craig wouldn't tell me what he had in mind, so I was pleasantly surprised when he drove us to John Alexander's, only a few blocks from our house.

We weren't disappointed.  We never are when we eat there.  Soft lighting, quiet conversation, a fabulous menu - we were feeling all swanky and relaxed and giddy.  We ordered an excellent bottle of Pinot Noir.

And oysters on the half shell for an appetizer:

Photo credit

Although I love seafood, this was my first time eating oysters. I found them to be surprisingly delightful.  John Alexander's has their oysters shipped daily, so they couldn't have been more fresh unless we were dining in Nantucket (I think it's true that oysters are an aphrodisiac, ahem, blush).

For the main course, we each ordered the Steak Alexander, which is a beautiful cut of petite tenderloin grilled to perfection (medium rare for us) served with crisp asparagus and choice of creamy mashed potatoes (like no other we've ever eaten) or Tomato Basil Orzo (again, like no other).  Our taste buds were absolutely jumping for joy.  We lingered over the last of our wine and left feeling like newlyweds.

Next we went for a drink and a bit of Gopher Hockey at JC Chumley's - The Cheers Bar of Moorhead.

We were home by eight, snuggled up on the couch talking and watching "X-Men."  Certainly not my choice, but considering Craig always rents us a "chick flick", I decided it was his turn.  Besides, compromise is an important ingredient of any healthy relationship.

Besides providing you with a local restaurant review (you're welcome), my point is this: Don't forget to bring the romance alive again, and often. Sometimes, we get so involved in the daily grind that we forget what's really important in marriage: each other. 

I highly recommend the oysters.

It's Official - We Have a Preschooler

Yesterday, Craig and I took the plunge and enrolled Murray in preschool.  Today, I received the call that there is room for him.  He starts in September.  When did my baby grow up?

Newborn Murray

I cried.  Shocker, right?  In case you didn't know, I'm an emotional person.  I cry.  A lot.


I'm not excited about this decision. 

Our daycare provider is so fabulous, I don't even know if I have words to describe her.  She was the first person I inquired to about daycare when we found out that I was pregnant.  She didn't have an opening at the time, but we waited. Waited impatiently.  We just knew how awesome it would be to put Murray in her care.  When she called to tell us that she had an opening, we were thrilled. 

Not only does she take better care of Murray than we probably do, but she teaches him - letters, numbers, manners, respect, the list goes on. Murray has absolutely THRIVED in her care.  She goes above and beyond, too.  She is solely responsible for him being potty trained at the age of two.  Or, when a few months ago, after Craig completely botched Murray's hair cut, she took the time to even it out and make it look nice.  Murray refers to she and her husband as his other Grandpa and Grandma, that's how much he loves them.  She is  the "child whisperer".  She makes him feel secure and loved, proud and confident; all of the things that we strive for Murray to feel and be.

And then there's the fact that he spends the day growing up with his cousin, who is only five days younger than Murray.  The two of them are attached at the hip, and yeah, they fight, but they're also best friends. 
Skating at night with their headlamps

So why make the change?  To tell the truth, I am against putting Murray in preschool.  I don't feel that he needs it.  I know I sound boastful, but the kid is pretty dang smart.  He does simple addition and subtraction, is learning to write the alphabet, and shows all the signs of reading readiness.  He's a social butterfly and gets along well (for the most part) with others.  He knows the days of the week and what a month is.

This is where Craig and I disagree.  I'm no expert, but I do know a bit more about education for young children than he (and he knows way more about math and computers than I will in ten lifetimes).  Still, Craig feels it's important for him to go to preschool, so I caved.  In September, Murray will attend  St. Joseph's Catholic School from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Sniff.

As much as he loves his daycare, he's already talking about what he'll do at "schoouh" and carrying around a backpack and telling us he's leaving for "cwass" to "yearn" (maybe at least they'll help him with the "L" sound).  Clearly, I'm the only member of this family who isn't ready to have a preschooler.

The one thing we do agree on is that he attends Catholic School.  It's important to us.  Our parish, St. Joseph's is an amazing place.  We love it there, and know that Murray will thrive in such an environment.

We're thankful for everything that our childcare provider has done for us.  We have been truly blessed.  I'm glad we still have several months left with her.  It will be a big change for us, but hopefully, by September, I'll be on board.  Right now, I'm just not there.


Remember how I wrote about my frustrating attempts to re-teach myself embroidery? After my initial frustrating day of tears and ripped out stitching, I walked away from the project altogether.

When venting on Facebook, a friend suggested that I might try cross stitch.  "You can't go wrong with little x's," she wrote.  After a week or two of contemplation, I ordered a kit to cross stitch a baby blanket (to make for my soon-to-be niece). Again, time passed with frustration and more ripped out stitches. I was ready to give up again, thinking that maybe needle work just wasn't for me.

But then a friend of mine brought her daughter over for a play date. Out of the blue, I asked her if she knew how to cross stitch. She did! She sat down and explained the best way to work a pattern, and demonstrated the stitching. 

I felt more confident than ever.  She had made it look so easy! I worked and worked, but still, I just couldn't get it right.  But, I kept trying.  Kept starting over.

A little voice in my head reminded me of her simple statement, "Just think of them as little boxes."

Several attempts later, it dawned on me.  I completed a row, and then a second, and then another.  With each stitch, I felt more encouraged and more satisfaction.  

Here's where I am one week later:
I haven't added any detail yet, so it still looks a little bare.  And, it's certainly not perfect.  The images in each block don't line up correctly, but heck if I'm going back and tearing out all that work.  I'm fixing the problem on the next block, and learning as I go.  This is the first time I've laid it out to critique.  I'm improving, if I do say so myself.

I'm stitching every single "x" with love and anticipation for the arrival of our niece.

I was hoping to have it finished in time for Maggie's shower, but according to my calculations, that likely won't happen.  I have 25 more blocks to go, plus the detail. 

With any luck, I'll have it complete by the time my niece is in kindergarten.  Or maybe high school?

Questions, Questions, Questions

I often find myself completely dumbfounded at the questions Murray asks. Here are some of the latest. Note that sometimes I pull answers out of my ear.

Q: How do brakes stop the wheeuhs?
A: There's a machine in the engine so when you press the brake pedal, the machine stops the wheels.

Q: How does the frost get on the trees and the windows?
A: It gets cold out, and then...well, Jack Frost visits.
Q: Why?
A: Because it's winter.

Q: How come you yike to do sewing?
A: Because I like it.
Q: Why?
A: Because it's relaxing.
Q: What's rewaxing?
A: When you rest.

Q: Why does Rudy have a taiuh?
A: Because God gave him a tail.

Q: How are some kids bigger than me?
A: Because they were born before you.
Q: How?
A: Because God said so.

Q: How yong is it to the cities?
A: Four hours.
Q: How yong is that?
A: Ummm...a long time.
Q: Why?
A: Because it's far away.

Q: How does the vaccuum cweaner suck up stuff?
A: Well, there's a mechanism that - never mind. Go ask your Dad.

Feel free to leave some suggestions for answers in the comment section. I could use some help here.


Sledding accident.  Ouch.

Broken Wings

I'm not a person who really likes figurines.  I find that they look cluttery. Plus, I'm a klutz, so they tend to break.  That said, I do own a few that I cherish. 

My Mom gave me this the last time she stayed at our house.  She wanted her grandchild to have a guardian angel.

I was devastated when I came home from work one evening to discover a note from the cleaning service.  The cleaning person had been dusting a shelf in Murray's room, and the angel fell off.  As a result, the angel's wing suffered some damage.

My sister, Maggie, gave this one to me as a Mother's Day gift in 2007, my first "official" Mother's Day.  
We were shopping with our Mom. She noticed me admiring it, and when I wasn't looking, she purchased it. I'll never forget the giggles the three of us shared that day.

Mags also bought us this last one, which I love, love, love.  It used to look like this:

It was a gift from her after Murray was born. She was one of the first people to hold Murray. Every time I look at this, I remember her cradling a swaddled Murray whispering, "Hello, peanut."

Now it looks like this:

I dropped it once, Craig dropped it once, and this last time, Rudy's tail is responsible.  Sadly, I can't find a replacement online.  The good news is, we have all of the pieces and super glue does amazing work.

I think they're all beautiful, even with cracks, imperfections, and broken wings.  Each one has a story, sweet reminders of acts of love and kindness. 

Just like people.