All of our friends are starting families and it's changing the way we hang out. It seems like just yesterday we were meeting up last minute at a bar downtown, but ever so slowly our time together is adapting. Now, with kids in the mix, there's much more planning involved - you won't hear me complaining (says the Type A personality in the room).
Bars have been replaced by living rooms. Cheap bottled beer and $2 you call-its have turned into whiskey on the rocks and fine red wines (well... 'fine' meaning it was in the $20 wooden display bins at Costco last weekend). And instead of the 4:30pm group text message on Friday afternoon seeing, "Who's up for happy hour?" we're already scheduled to arrive at someone's house at 7pm. You've got two hours to change our of your work clothes, pick up your kid and their pack'n play (because he or she is going down in someone's spare bedroom upstairs later that night), and stop by Smitty's for your drink choice that evening.
And while our time together is much more planned out and intentional, I think it makes it more worthwhile especially on special occasions like Valentine's Day.
For the second year in a row we planned a group date. Last year we hosted everyone at our loft for appetizers and cocktails before all attending a show together at Actor's Theatre downtown. We took roadies and snack boxes to the theatre, I think Jeff ended up being seated next to one of his old high school teachers which was funny because the show wasn't exactly politically correct, and we're pretty sure the excitement of the evening sent our friend Allison into labor the next day. Happy first birthday to their son Ari!
This year we made dinner reservations at Olive's Bar and Restaurant located in Gaslight Village. If you've never been, we definitely recommend it. They're a cozy joint that serves everything from lobster risotto and meatloaf to quinoa salad and turkey burgers. They also utilize local vendors including Fish Lads (located in the Downtown Market), Old World Olive Press and Nantucket Bakery. I've never had a bad meal there.
After dinner we all went back to our place for cocktails and dessert. Jeff has gotten extremely into old fashions lately which means he'll make one for anyone who's interested. I made fresh baked apple dumplings with vanilla ice cream on the side. And while dinner and dessert were both amazing, the highlight of the evening was the 'how well do you know your spouse' game Jeff and I put together for everyone.
We took a spin on the Newlywed Game asking each couple a series of 10 questions. Each couple had a pad of paper and pen and were asked to write an answer to each question then reveal their answer. If they answered the same, they got a point. A simple yet hilarious process. Questions were all across the board including, 'finish this sentence: Your wife is a natural born (blank),' to 'If your wife could get rid of any of your possessions, what would it be?'
Friends Kevin and Ashley dominated the score board and came out the winners of the evening. Their skills left the rest of the couples wondering, 'what's their secret!?'
And while our Valentine's Day won't be considered as one of the most romantic in the books, it's proof of our ever evolving social lives with our friends. We've got years of scheduling babysitters ahead of us and I think I speak for most everyone else when I say that I'm grateful to be making plans with friends for fun. This chapter in life is the best one yet.