Oct. 11 is a big day in our family. The first person to lay claim to it was my mom when she was born on that day a while ago. This year the 11th also marked Jon and my 10th wedding anniversary as well as our niece Audrey's 9th birthday. Every year we jockey around the whos, whats and wheres of this day, trying to make sure that everyone gets their piece of the glory. Plans vary from year to year, but we always make sure that we have fun.
This year the 11th fell on a Friday, a good day to make all kinds of plans. Mom was travelling and while we didn't actually get to see her on the day, birthday wishes were sent via cards and phone calls. Meanwhile, our family had plans to head to Jericho to visit my brother and his family, to celebrate anniversary, birthday and a gorgeous autumn weekend together. Our daughter's school district calendars disappointed once again by not having the same holidays off (ours had Monday, theirs Friday), but we decided that 2 days was better than none and forged ahead, making dinner reservations, packing, and completely forgetting to make arrangements to feed the cats.
After school we hopped in the car (after sending a slightly panicky and very embarrassed message to the neighbors asking if they could please babysit those cats) and headed north. The driving was surprisingly good, not even hampered by leaf-peeper traffic, and we arrived in good time. Hugs were exchanged, bags lugged in and then my brother and sister-in-law were off with the kids, headed to a hibachi restaurant with all the girls to celebrate Audrey's birthday. Jon and I were alone, left to get ready for our anniversary dinner at The Kitchen Table, a favorite restaurant about 5 minutes from my brother's home.
Wow. A date. We've had a run of stressful things happen (computer glitches, new cats, start of school, flat tires, health, jobs, bills, schedules ok, so regular life just got the better of us) and this night out was overdue, welcome and long-awaited. As we were seated at our table for 2 (not 4, not even 3) we both breathed a sigh of relief. Wine was ordered, fabulous appetizers brought and menus read, while we reconnected with one another and recalled bits and pieces of both our wedding day and honeymoon 10 years ago. I can't tell you that all of our conversation was idyllic - yes, we spent some time hashing through some of the stressors that were making a mark in our lives - but it was time spent together, alone, uninterrupted and enjoying ourselves.
Of course, our evening alone came to an end but we left feeling content, relaxed and full of the great memories we had revisited. Back at my brother's, our kids were waiting for us, happy and with stories of the evening ('Uncle Steve was the only one who caught a piece of zucchini - must be because he has a big mouth!'). With bedtime for the younger and a marathon of Rock Band with the elder, Jon and I moved back into our regular life as parents with an ease that had been elusive before our evening together.
The weekend continued without any sort of a plan. Stress was something we all wanted to avoid and so we ended up staying at the house and just enjoying our families. Yes, forays out into the world did happen on Saturday - to the bakery and grocery store for breakfast and lunch fixings and then later to the butcher to choose what to grill out on that glorious fall evening. Jon and I even got a great hike in - another date! The girls played - Margot, Audrey and 6-year-old Liza both inside the house and out, coming up with various games while Marielle spent time listening to music and hanging out with us grown-ups.
Sunday morning came - not only did this mark the day that we would have to leave (awww!), but it was also the day that we had been told to get ourselves to Underhill for donuts. My cousin Briana, who also lives in the area, had told my brother about a little place that sells pies during the week but fries up donuts on Sunday morning. Really good donuts. In fact, so good that word-of-mouth was how people heard about this place and some people weren't tellin' because they often sold out of donuts by 10 a.m. We had to check this out.
My sister-in-law, Robyn, and I volunteered to go and do the fetching. Jericho and Underhill were absolutely lovely in their blanket of mist and cloak of color at 8.15 AM. After guiding me through a couple turns that I never would have figured out myself, Robyn and I pulled up behind a minivan parked haphazardly on the side of the street. We had been warned that there could often be a line at Poorhouse Pies, and had tried to get there as soon as they opened, but we weren't quite early enough. Out in front of a house with the front door wide open we found a pop-up tent set up over a couple tables which held trays of gorgeous looking donuts, some of which disappearing at an alarming rate. We waited anxiously as the people in front of us finished their order, breathing a sigh of relief to see that we would still get some of the goods. As we stepped up to the table to place our order (how many donuts to 8 people really need for breakfast?) some more folks lined up behind us and I swear I could feel their consternation as we took home all the French crullers, the remaining cider donuts, most of the maple glazed as well as the last chocolate glazed. What were they worried about? We still left them with lemon-pistachio, some maple bacon, a few raspberry jelly and look, here comes a fresh tray of chocolate with sprinkles (oh, and could we have 2 of those, too, please?)!
Miraculously, Robyn and I didn't eat any until we got back to the house. Knives were produced and donuts were dug into. Donuts like I'd never had before - absolutely delicious! We were all groaning happily by the time we stepped away from the box - and did manage to leave a decent assortment for the teenager who was still upstairs in bed, sleeping. Another round of coffee and I decided that I was glad that I lived 2 hours away and wouldn't have to fight THAT temptation once a week!
We spent the morning relaxing, and as we weren't home we couldn't work on our to-do list, so we watched and helped my brother's family work on theirs. It was a great way to spend time together, outside in the glory of October, feeling very much like all was right with the world. Jon and I had refocused on things that were important - one another, family and fun - something that can be hard to do in the midst of the daily grind, especially when you are convinced that the grind is out to get you. As we drove away towards home later that afternoon, we couldn't help but feel heady satisfaction - when your weekend is bookended with date night and donuts, it's hard to complain!
Make the time to plan a date and indulge in something decadent - you'll be the better for it, guaranteed!