Making Time for Date Night

As Valentine’s Day approaches, my friend Jessie Leigh asked me to join her and a few blogging friends in writing a series of blog posts about marriage.  I was honored, but humbled since I’m certainly not an expert! But since it is one of my favorite subjects – I agreed to give it a try. So for the next three weeks I will try to share some practical ideas on “Taking Your Marriage from Fine to Fabulous”. This week’s subject – Date Night.

Date NightsI came downstairs the other morning and heard one of my children exclaim, “Wow! Mom curled her hair!”

Okay – I wonder how bad I normally look that simply curling my hair would create such a sensation?

All eyes turned to me as they tried frantically to remember what big event was upcoming that would cause mom to actually curl her hair on a weekday?!

Then someone remembered that they would all be at a Youth Group activity that night – and Jan and I would be alone.

“Oh yeah! It’s for her big date with dad tonight!”

I’ve trained them well.

They know that we consider it a “date” anytime we are alone without children. We didn’t even have big plans. Actually – we didn’t even leave the house! We shared a frozen pizza and cuddled on the couch watching TV together.

But it wasn’t always that way.  My definition of a date has changed throughout the years. When we were first married it was easy and fun to plan special evenings out. Once the kids started coming things got harder. Our budget never allowed for babysitters and rarely for eating out, so we had to get creative.

When the kids were really little I’d put them to bed early and we’d enjoy a candlelight dinner at home. (This works best when you skip nap time!)

Or sometimes on Sunday afternoons we would take the kids to a state park and hike. Then we’d buckle them in their car seats and take the long way home. They would fall asleep exhausted and we’d have uninterrupted time to reconnect.  (To this day – car rides and long walks are my favorite times with Jan!)

In time I came to realize that the goal of a date was to be together. Period. The details really didn’t matter.  It didn’t have to be expensive – it didn’t even have to be planned.  I lowered my expectations to just one – we needed to be alone.

Then we learned to seize the moments whenever possible.

Watching a movie on the couch when the kids were in bed.

Sitting in the porch swing holding hands and watching the sunset.

Sharing a root beer float on the picnic table during nap time on a Saturday afternoon.

Occasionally Poppa and Nana would bless us by taking the kids for an evening allowing us some wonderful uninterrupted time together. Sometimes we would drive to the nearest large town and eat out before getting groceries and stopping at Wal-Mart. Other nights, we’d stay home and enjoy a frozen pizza and take a long walk.

Nothing fancy. Nothing expensive.  We were alone. We were together.

Now that the kids are older,  it’s easier to get away for the evening – even for an overnight every once in awhile. 🙂

But I still love the simple dates – sitting by the bonfire talking, holding hands as we walk out to check the cows, or a Saturday morning at garage sales.

It’s choosing to be together. Taking time to reconnect.  Showing my husband that spending time with him is still my favorite thing to do.

Which is why – even after 21 years – my heart sings when he says, “I’m running some errands in town – want to ride along?”

Yes! He still wants to be with me!

Date Night Brownies

Last night my husband and I enjoyed a little respite from the rigors of a massive home remodel with a mini-date.

The kids went down the road to Grandma’s for supper and he and I shared a frozen pizza in relative quiet before heading back to sanding floors.

Even though it was a simple date, I knew that a chocolate treat would be just the thing to make it special.

So I whipped up this rich decadent brownie topped with almonds and chocolate chips. Since it was made in an 8 x 8 pan, it’s not a recipe I use often. (With a family the size of mine a pan that small would be consumed in the blink of an eye! I go industrial size on my baking.)

The brownies worked. After a few bites we went from a strategic planning session to remembering why we got married in the first place. We left the details behind and started laughing, remembering and reconnecting.

Once again we proved the power of chocolate!

The Deep Dish Brownie

Mix together 3/4 cup melted butter, 1 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Add 3 eggs, beating well.

In a separate bowl combine 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Add flour to the egg mixture gradually until well-blended. Pour into a greased 8 x 8 square pan.

Sprinkle with chocolate chips and chopped nuts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until edges pull away from the pan.

Enjoy with your “honey”!

County Wide Garage Sales

It was a big weekend here at the farm, County wide garage sales!

It took three days, but we covered almost all of the over 40 sales. We are exhausted, but triumphant with our spoils!

Some of the best buys include:

  • a pair of insulated coveralls for my hubby for $5. They were in great condition and would have cost about $50 new.
  • A pair of black leather pants to sell on eBay for $.50.
  • A similar black leather jacket to sell on eBay for $1.
  • A very nice Columbia Wool coat to sell on eBay for $1.
  • A cordless phone with answering machine for $1 (We never buy these new, we can find them so cheap at garage sales, we pick them up and when the battery runs dead, we throw them away and pull out a spare.)
  • A nice bag full of clothes for the kids that the guy gave us for a dollar just to get rid of it in the last few minutes of the sale! (I wondered later if I should have offered him $5 for all the clothes he had left, gleaned what we could use and tried to sell the rest on eBay, but I didn’t think of it in time.)

Overall it was not as good as previous years, lots of baby and toddler clothes and toys. But we found enough things for our family and for resell that we feel like it was a successful venture.

And…since I was alone with my husband we can officially qualify it as a date!