It was a big week for us. D and I went on our first date in six months, Zoë pooped for the first time in four days, and Stella has her first loose tooth!

D and I haven’t been out together—just the two of us—since I was about six months pregnant. But Friday it was my birthday, and we desperately needed some alone time, so we put Stella to bed and I nursed Zoë until she was about to explode. Then we passed Zoë off to my mom, and ran out the door.

It was a beautiful evening—70 degrees and sunny—and it felt as though we were playing hooky. We drove to our favorite restaurant, the one where, a decade ago, we fell in love over bottles of wine and thin-crust pizza and crème brûlée. At that time, D was still playing soccer and I was waiting tables, so we would meet there after work two or three nights a week. (This was, clearly, pre– mortgage and car payments and house repairs.) The restaurant hasn’t changed, but going there sometimes makes me realize how much our lives have changed.

When we were seated, I placed my cell phone on the table and willed it not to ring. (Zoë still refuses to take a bottle, and when she’s hungry and I’m not there, she cries as if she’s being tortured.)

We ordered a bottle of wine and sat back, slowly remembering what it felt like to relax together. It was a lovely evening and the food was amazing. I started with a cup tomato and fennel soup and then had the most wonderful smoked chicken risotto with peas and some kind of demi glace. I haven’t eaten food like that—with flavors that mingle perfectly—in so, so long.

And the best part: no calls from my mom. When we got home, Zoë was sleeping soundly in grandma’s arms. Hallelujah!

The other big news (other than Zoë finally pooping after four days) is that Stella has a loose tooth. We were at the dentist on Monday, and I casually asked the hygienist when kids start loosing their teeth. (I obviously remember nothing from my own childhood.)

“Oh, about five or six,” she said. But then she started checking Stella’s teeth, and said, “Oh, she’s got one!”

Her front left tooth has got a little wiggle in it.

Stella smiled proudly and I got tears in my eyes. If she’s loosing teeth, it means she’s going to be a teenager in like, four minutes, no? I immediately flashed forward to braces and pink hair and her begging for some kind of body piercing.

But she was so excited! The whole way home, she kept asking, “Is it this one, mama? Is this the loose one?”

She wanted me to tell her friends about it the next morning at pre-school because she thought she might forget which one it was, but as soon as we got there, she dashed over to them on her own. I heard her say, “You guys, guess what? Guess what?! I have a loose tooth!” Her little friends all gathered around her to witness the almost imperceptible movement. Stella beamed.

These little things—a date, a tooth, and an overdo poop—have made me smile this week.

But now I need a really good novel. I’m craving a sweep-me-away kind of novel, one I won’t want to put down. Any recommendations?


  1. I can recommend two book for your current situation,

    1. For Stella and her loose tooth, One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey. My three-year old Vivian is convinced she has a loose tooth after repeated readings of this. It’s a good one.

    2. For your summer “swept” away novel I’d recommend Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. It’s a stunning memoir written in comic strip format. It’s the front runner for my favorite book of the year. Easy most of the time, heartfelt, engaging and enlightening. You won’t be disappointed!

  2. Happy birthday! How nice to get a special evening with no interruptions.

    How about “The Double Bind” by Chris Bohjalian? Or “Old School” by Tobias Wolff? I loved them both.

  3. read “eat, pray, love” by elizabeth gilbert -fluffy and light, but oddly satisfying.

  4. Thank you Kate, for convincing me that our non-bottle-taking daughter will be alright when we venture out to celebrate our anniversary next week! We also have not been out in 6 months, well five but the first time baby was 4 weeks old so we just looked at each other over hamburgers and thought about sleep. . .

    Child of My Heart by Alice McDermott is a good summer read although it might not help with fear of having a teenager!

  5. Jodie, I’ll definitely check out the McCloskey. I’ve read Persepolis, but you reminded me that somewhere I have Persepolis 2! I’ll track that down.

    Thank you all for the recommendations. I haven’t read any of them!

    And Shana, enjoy your anniversary! She will be just fine!!

  6. Wow, big things happening in your house! Happy belated birthday, and I’m glad you enjoyed your night out. Yay for the lost tooth!!

  7. Kate! I love that eclectic list of firsts. And I’m glad you had a nice time out. Happy belated birthday.

    Perfect novel: Shakespeare’s Kitchen by Lore Segal.

    It’s linking short stories, so each one is satisfying on its own, but it has also got wonderful narrative pull.

  8. Loved account of first “date” night. That is our favorite restaurant too. We named our daughter there, 21 years ago, on the eve of her arrival (same name as yours).

    Fortunately you have a few more minutes before they become teenagers, but make the most of the golden years (4-11)….as opposed to the “how-did-we-end-up-here” years where I am (16-21).

    I also liked “Before you know kindness” by Chris Bohjalian and I’m about to start “Skeletons at the Feast”…I’ll let you know what I think.

  9. Yeah, Stella! (Hopefully she won’t swallow it like Desi did his while he was on a sleepover at our place!) Yeah, Zoe!

    Anything Margaret Atwood — Oryx and Crake, The Blind Assassin, or Alias Grace especially. I don’t usually go for these big-time books but The Kite Runner was a great summer read. Also, The God of Small Things. And Waiting by Ha Jin for a little “romance.”

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