Yesterday, I wrote all about going to see Shrek before I even began to get ready to go.  I had no idea what drama would ensue.

I had hours at home with just me and my kids as Chase had to be at work.  The original plan had been to be at church and then the church picnic and then clean house.  However, I wasn’t quite sure I was up for all that activity.  I was feeling better after a bout with sickness the night before, but I wanted to make sure I was feeling my best for the show.  So what to do with my time?  I decided to get ready and look good, this was a big date night with my husband, I’d treat it like that.  So I showered, shaved, washed, exfoliated, plucked, lotioned, conditioned, polished, and curled.  I was even going to go all out and wear a skirt, until I realized that I own no panty hose. So instead I went for Alaska formal wear, jeans.  I even prepped the kids.  Clara’s hair was curled, a dress was put on, and I put some make-up on her.  I made sure the boys had combed hair.  Didn’t mess too much with their clothing choices, we do live in Alaska.  I will say that everyone at the show dressed their best, but this is Alaska best.  The formal wear I saw ran from what looked like prom dresses to clean jeans and t-shirts.  Everyone looked nice, so it works.  My boys were wearing clean clothes, so I just asked that Austin put on long sleeves under his Shrek t-shirt (he gets cold so easily, I just wanted him to be comfortable all night long).  My plan was to have all of us ready by four.  At four, I was putting my stuff into a different purse, hey, I wanted the whole look to be perfect and the brown bag went with my brown boots, brown sweater, brown wrap, etc.  Before I had everything in, Chase called. He was done with what he had to do, did I want to come down for dinner?

I had been hoping for dinner out with Chase all day.  That’s why I wanted to have make-up on and hair curled by four, just in case.  Then he asks did I want to meet him at Qdoba, or did we want to try Olive Garden.  So, I’ve been craving Olive Garden all week, since clipping a coupon in last Sunday’s paper for Olive Garden.  But it was just a bit after four, and we had a show at 7:30, could we make it?  Here’s the thing.  Anchorage just got Alaska’s first Olive Garden earlier this year.  People drove down from Fairbanks and up from Homer when it opened.  The day they opened, before they opened their doors there was already a two hour wait to be seated.  Things have calmed down a bit since then, but trying to eat there, especially for dinner, can be crazy.  It’s still a novelty.  It’s still the only one, another one will be opening soon, but it’s not open yet.  Even though we all probably know local restaurants that can give Olive Garden’s entrées a run for their money, Piccolino’s lasagna can’t be topped, the novelty of it being something that people in the Lower 48 can get, and we haven’t been able to, gives the new chain restaurant much appeal.  When watching tv, especially in the winter when we are hiding in our houses from the cold, dark world outside, we see the same commercials as everyone else.  The national ad for Olive Garden, or for Red Lobster, airs here as it does everywhere else.  It doesn’t matter that the nearest location is 2,000 miles away, it’s a national ad, so it airs.  And we drool and get jealous.  Then Olive Garden comes, and we come in droves as if led by the Pied Piper.  All that to say, I wanted to go to Olive Garden, and I knew we needed to get there fast if we were going to wait the wait to be seated, eat and still make it to Shrek in time.  I hastily assembled my purse and loaded the kids in the van.

We made it to Olive Garden before 5, and had a 35-40 minute wait.  Here they usually overestimate the amount of time needed to seat you, so we were good.  Chase arrived with a friend from college who had also joined the Army and is stationed at Wainwright, but was down here for a bit.  As we were talking and waiting, I started thinking about going to the show.  I knew Chase had his ticket, so if time got to be an issue, he could drop us off by the door, and the kids and I could go in with our tickets, which were still sitting on the table from when I got Chase’s ticket out to give him that morning.  In my haste to get to dinner on time, I forgot to grab the tickets.  I looked at Chase and told him “Your wife may have forgot the tickets.”  I said good-bye and ran to the van.  With no kids in the car, and a husband that I really wanted to have dinner with, I drove like an Alaskan on the highway on the drive home to retrieve the tickets.  I was at the table before the appetizer.  Here, I must, with joy, point out that the evening was not ruined.  In the past, I would have beat myself up over my mistake, and turned it into a big deal.  Last night, instead of stressing, I did what needed to be done.  In the past, I would have been worked up, I would have needed someone else to take charge and at the least tell me what to do.  And then I would have resented that they needed to take charge and been irritable.  I’m so thankful that God is helping me to not be that woman any longer.

Dinner was great.  We had fun.  The waiter had been made aware that we were in a hurry, so he kept things coming.  I relaxed and stopped looking at the time.  I wasn’t the only one who was having so much fun and enjoying the moment that time went out the window.  We left the restaurant at five till seven.  We had thirty-five minutes to drop our friend back at the barracks, drive downtown, park and get seated before the show started.  I’m still amazed that waves of stress didn’t begin to roll over me, change my attitude and bring strife to the night.  It’s so not like me to remain calm.  But things were going so well.  The night was so good, and still had such good potential.  I didn’t want to ruin it by starting arguments.  I didn’t want to ruin it by driving my husband crazy with questions like “Do you think we will make it?”, “What are we gonna do if we are late?”  I decided we should just do what we had to do.  Drop by the barracks, drive downtown, and go to the show.  If there on time, great.  If not, so we miss a couple of minutes of the show, we’d still get to see most of it.  Chase dropped off the kids and me by the theater.  We made it in just as the announcement that five minutes till the start of the show came over the loudspeaker.  I decided to take the kids and sit down.  They take a while to get settled and I knew Chase could find us.

As the lights dimmed, the seat next to me was empty.  When Shrek appeared on stage, the seat next to me was empty.  But before Shrek even met Donkey, the seat was filled.  I relaxed completely and enjoyed the show.  It was a good show, and we had killer seats.  During intermission I even ran into the wife of the owner of Chepos.  It’s horrible I don’t know her name, but we see her weekly at the restaurant and she spoils my kids rotten.  We chatted in line waiting for the facilities.  When I sat down I began to read the program, and laughed as I read the director’s note saying he wanted this play to bring the community together.  To be something to talk with your neighbors about during the week after seeing each other at the show.  I thought how this lady and I have another link in a chain toward a relationship after seeing each other at the show.

So we laughed, at one point so hard I nearly cried, we cheered and we watched Shrek marry Fiona.  Then it was very late, and time to head home.  As I got Clara ready to leave, I noticed that she was missing earmuffs and gloves.  Again, this would have been cause for high levels of stress for old Lori, but this Lori knows something.  It’s not a big deal.  I knew where they had to be, Olive Garden. And I knew, even if not there, it was just earmuffs and gloves.  My daughter is not short on cold weather gear.  As Chase’s car was still at Olive Garden, he suggested we not delay and just retrieve them while we dropped him at the car.  A sign on the door said, no re-entry after 10, but I knew they wouldn’t be yet really closing, people were still eating there after all, so I snuck in.  They hostesses were so nice and had Clara’s stuff waiting for her.

Going to bed at the end of the night, I was amazed at how well the whole night went.  There were so many triggers for stress.  But everyone involved chose to remain relaxed, everyone chose to have a good time no matter what.  And it was a magical night.  A night full of only good memories.  A night that brought us closer as a family.

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