Sunday, August 16, 2009

Parental Playcation


August. August is wedding anniversary month.

Him Downstairs and I have reached a big milestone. Kind of. It's been four years. (We've moved countries and had two kids in that time. It feels muuucccch longer!) What's the traditional gift for year four? Oh yes. Four years is Fruit or flowers. He'll be pleased. He always buys me flowers anyway on our anniversary, so for the first year ever, he'll have hit the traditional gift nail right on the head. He'll get double points if he throws in a bag of Granny Smith too eh?

We survived our First (Paper) without much of a hitch. He gave me a card, so technically he also hit the jackpot with that one. He got me flowers too. I got him a photo of our boys blown up into a nice frame. I was following the paper trail.

The Second (Cotton) didn't come with sexy cotton undies for either of us. I got flowers again, but that year he took heed and didn't dare get me a crappy bunch from the 7-Eleven. Can't remember now what I got him. Whoops. Dinner out probably.

Third: Leather. I'd totally forgotten about traditional pressies by this point and believe it was a last minute dash to Borders to get him a book token. Terrible I know. And what did he go and get me? He bloody well pulled all the stops out and made me a wedding album on blurb.com that is the most beautiful picture album I own. He even scanned all the messages from our guest book into it in a very arty fashion. I felt dreadful when I opened it. My gift to him looked supersizededly crap.

But our main tradition with wedding anniversaries is my leaking eyes. You see, as the 19 August dawns, I usually wake up so melancholy that Him Downstairs (HD) is visibly offended. The supposed happiest day of our lives together has me bawling by breakfast and finishing off a box of Kleenex for tea.

I can't help it. I've tried to be chipper, but so far, smiles have been infrequent on that day.

Before you all think I'm madder than a box of frogs, let me explain.

When we got married it was a month before we left the UK. Therefore our wedding was the last big get-together of all our family and friends we would have for, like, ever. It was a great wedding (except for the British summer weather we had: the rain and the more rain that came). But every year when I reflect on that day, I just get all weepy, not because I married HD (though I understand his growing paranoia) but because it makes me think of all my girlfriends back home and our families and how much fun we used to all have together. And how much I miss them all.

I don't help myself. I usually rig up our old portable British TV and whack on the wedding video, so I can feel utterly depressed before bedtime. While I'm sobbing in front of the TV, HD goes and hides the laptop, so I can't then book myself a one way ticket back to England. Our bedroom is hardly a passion palace on anniversary night. More, soggy sheets for all the wrong reasons.

However, for this anniversary, the big t-adaa f o u r t h (!) I am/have turned over a new leaf. Kind of. I have to be honest here. I am actually flying away from him on our wedding anniversary. And taking his children. To Spain. To see their grandparents for three weeks. Ouch. Happy anniversary darling!

Yes, that was his reaction too when I told him what dates I was going away.

But it was so much more expensive to fly the next day, truly. So really, I'm doing him a favour and saving him money by leaving him that particular day. And he loves to save his pennies...

Anyway, to redeem myself and to make up for the past three teary anniversaries, I went all out this weekend to surprise him with a fabulous early anniversary gift.

I took him away.

Without the kids.

To a very fancy hotel.

He waved the boys off at lunchtime on Saturday and spent a while pottering round the house, before I called him. I was outside the beauty salon, where I'd just had my first bikini wax in about five years.

"So, you're still alive then?" he quips down the phone.
"Just. But am not sure it should be as red as it is. It bloody hurt."
"Come home and show me..."

This is exactly the response I was expecting. He's all about wax this, wax that. On me. Wave a bit of wax at his back hair and he runs a mile. He's still babbling on down the phone about did I go for the 'Brazilian' or the 'Playboy,' when I inform him I did neither. Just the 'bare minimum' needed for three weeks in a swimsuit, and, if I could get a word in edge ways I'd like to tell him to pack his bags as I will be home in 20 mins (after the obligatory quick solo jaunt round Gap, J Crew and Banana Republic) to take him off for the night at the swanky Royal Park hotel in town.

What was his response to my surprise announcement?

"Oh right. Cool."

'C o o l'???!!!

I was more speechless than during my bikini wax.

If he'd phoned to tell me he was taking me away to a beautiful hotel for the night, I'd have been jumping up and down, shrieking with excitement. (I don't get out much and HD has never surprised me with an impromptu treat, but if he did, the first thing I'd actually really do is, faint.) But, my point is, for a second there, I wished I hadn't bothered.

The wax had even been booked that particular morning so he had a little extra anniversary present. I would've normally left it until the day before I fly.

Anyway, "Don't sound too excited," I said to him.
"No no," he replies. "I am. I just wasn't expecting it."

Fair point. He was, after all, expecting the anniversary tears. And probably a row. They often go hand in hand when we're meant to be having a highly romantic time together without our children.

So I limped home with red eyebrows (also freshly waxed) to match my red bits and bless him, he'd already packed his tidy whites (FCUK boxers) and had a smile on his face.

Our first stop on the way to the hotel, was a romantic trip to Home Depot (B&Q) to chose paint colours. See, he does know how to show me a good time, doesn't he? He announced he will paint our bedroom while I'm away. I'm a very lucky lady.

Surprisingly, this passed an enjoyable half hour. We held hands and shocker, didn't have a cross word or a moody silence.(Normally part of the course of any shopping trip together.) We also didn't have to chase two small people round the store constantly. Bonus.

There was a minor leak in our love bubble when we then decided to stop off for a sunbathe and swim at the pool. The kids and I are members, HD is not and due to overcrowding, they were not letting any guests in this weekend. Bang went our romantic child-free dip in the pool together.

I was in a grump about this. He was madly suggesting alternative ideas to try and cheer me up (trip to Target aka posh TK Max, anyone?) and avoid any potential arguments lurking around the corner.

But after a tiny moan about the swimming pool, I got over myself and we decided to go check into the hotel early instead.

Wow. Big love bubble of loveliness restored.

What a room.

What bedlinen. I don't think I've ever (knowingly) slept on Egyptian cotton before, but now I am forever converted. "Oh God, I suppose you'll want to go and buy some of these now won't you?" he said. Such a bloke response to the female cooing over sheets.

The heat and humidity had exhausted us, so we made use of the bathroom's amazing shower and fluffy bathrobes, before we settled down to read our books and have an afternoon snooze.

Come on. This is our fourth anniversary, not our honeymoon.

After a couple of hours, where, OK, I did give in to his advances, despite the unattractive post-waxing blotches surrounding my thighs, we felt majorly decadent and ordered chocolate cake on room service.

Trying to look exactly like we'd never ever touched each other when the waiter arrived, I positioned myself with my book and attempted a scholarly rather than slutty expression.

Don't think my ruse worked. The smalltalk the waiter made was cringe worthy, though am sure he has walked into worse than a stray sock leering at him on the floor.

We dressed up for dinner. No splodges of ketchup on our collars. No. We even ironed our outfits.

HD ordered a mangotini and I an Irish coffee on the terrace bar and we savoured every last moment of it being sipped in peace. It was almost like LBC (Life Before Children).

Then I remembered I hadn't told my friend to make sure she got Cheeky up for a midnight wee, so I phoned.

My heart ached for a moment when I heard them giggling and saying, 'Night night' to me in the background, but then the waitress appeared and my need to be me for the evening and not Mummy, overtook me.

We wandered into town, again hand in hand, (it was all getting a bit Mills & Boon) and sat at a pavement cafe, watching the world go by and enjoying our meal. No crayons at the table. No booster seats needed.

We drank Mojitos. The drink we always drank together during Life In London. The drink that got us together. The drink we shared at our wedding breakfast.

It was all going well, and I think my Hubs finally relaxed in the knowledge that this could be the first anniversary with his wife, where she wasn't blowing her nose constantly.


Well oiled by now, we wobbled onto another bar for a couple more retro drinks (Malibu and Orange. Me. Lager. Him) before those Egyptian cotton sheets were a-calling and we made our way back to the hotel. I was up for doing shots back at the bar by now. My drinking glasses well and truly on.

We could hear live music when we got back, so thinking there might be a disco, and what the heck, wasn't it about time we forgot we were mid-thirties and strutted our circa 1991 moves, we followed the music into the bar.

It was more lounge singer than DJ, but still, it'd have been rude to walk straight back out, so we sat down and ordered a drink. The most expensive Baileys we've ever had. (Couldn't afford shots. I had been planning more along the lines of the price of a shot of Mad Dog in Wolverhampton, not a Marc Jacobs keyring.)

Anyway, the end of our evening out was made all the more enjoyable by a newly engaged couple looking like a comedy Anna Nicole Smith and Steve Carrell who slow-danced their way around the bar. HD and I were hoping for a bit of Oasis and Blur, what we got was an earful of the singer's Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston set-list.

I don't think we did a very good job of hiding our laughter at the mismatched couple. Hopefully they thought we were just very happy for them. Ahem.

"She's obviously marrying him for his money," I was blithering on, when HD said, possibly a bit loudly, "And he's marrying her for her tits!"

Taxi for two anyone?

We were pathetically drunk, by now doing our best Mariah sing-alongs at our table. And truly, I didn't care who saw us. I think there was also a very teenage snog somewhere between the bar and the elevator. But, thank God, at least we didn't get up and dance.

We had fun. Loads of fun.

And when we snuggled up in our posh sheets at the end of the night, I knew how lucky I was to have found Him Downstairs, and for once, I wasn't crying about it.

The next morning Mr and Mrs Hangover joined us, but it was worth every Advil. We ordered breakfast in bed (Eggs Benedict and a pot of tea) because we didn't dare face the restaurant in case Big Boobs and her Small Fry were there. We laid-in until 11am and wore our sunglasses as we checked out.

But the biggest surprise of our anniversary weekend ended up being on me, when we got back home. I opened our case to find we'd acquired a few extra 'gifts'. HD had packed us:

2 pairs of towelling hotel slippers
1 toilet roll
1 box of Kleenex
3 hotel monogrammed envelopes
6 sheets of hotel writing paper
1 hotel monogrammed pen
1 mini bottle of L'Occitane shampoo
1 mini bottle of L'Occitane conditioner

He hadn't got me the posh sheets though had he? No. He'd gone for the loo roll. Loo roll! When I scolded him for being so pikey, he said,

"Between you jetting off to Spain and that hotel bill, we can't bloody afford bog roll now can we? Happy anniversary!"

Ahh. Back to reality. Happy anniversary my love. Happy anniversary.
Remind me again, where on those traditional anniversary gift lists, does it say, 'Toilet Paper'?

7 comments:

  1. Awww, sounds fabulous. Glad you had such a brilliant time. Well done for braving the waxing after 5 years. Very hairy, I mean scary!! xx

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  2. It sounds wonderful and worth every last cent (and Advil). Am amazed you've packed so much into four years (2 kids, continental move)....I've been married 11 and we've only just managed the same. Still, child free time is just as precious, despite having spent years together before the kids came along.

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  3. CTTF - Thanks. It's still a little red, is that normal????

    NVG - You're right, no matter how long you've been together, child free time is precious, and so important to the relationship too I've discovered. If we don't make the effort to dine out together now and then, we find that all we've talked about for th past x weeks is the kids, the jobs he still hasn't done round the house and my over-spending. Not exactly recipe for a fine romance eh?

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  4. Glad you had a great time - I have to say very brave on the waxing front - ouch. Never done it... am such a chicken! Your anniversary adventure sounds so familiar... naps before nookie every time when youre a parent!

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  5. TG - You make me laugh 'naps before nookie' will now become my mantra. Would be terribly rude to fall asleep during it after all, wouldn't it?

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  6. Sounds absolutely wonderful. From top to bottom -including the Kleenex (in whatever form)!

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