So, at 7pm tonight I put the Ava girl to bed, welcomed our FREE babysitter (yea, she's awesome!) and headed out for a night on the town. Of course, that couldn't have been a smooth transition. And of course Ava didn't go down to sleep easily, as she does EVERY other "normal" night of her life. She cried, and cried, fussed and hissed until I had to go back in, pick her up to calm her down, then attempt the "bedtime routine" again. Followed by more crying, fussing, kicking the bed. She NEVER does that... So I whispered a quick prayer asking for patience and a miracle to lay this girl down quietly so I could go out with my hubby. As I was closing her door amidst her cries (heart wrenching) I heard her sigh as if she was giving in..."Thank you, Lord". After 23 minutes of trying to leave - out the door I went.
It almost felt weird to be in the car alone with just Brad. Strange not to have to reach behind me at awkard angles to replace pacifiers or hand stuffed animals or rattles to someone fussing. There was no "kids sing praise" music playing or me saying, "Mommy is going to the ______" (where ever we go I try to talk Ava through it...she likes car convos). It was just me and the love of my life - alone (sigh) at last. We had a plan - bowling and then starbucks on the way home. Here's where the free part comes in...
Here in IA there is a hair cutting place that gives out "1 free game" tickets to a local bowling alley per haircut. So, at Brad's last appointment he grabbed a few just in case we were ever able to go. So, we bowled three games! And two of those were free! Total cost = $10 for the shoes/bowling! We can do $10! It really was so much fun. I won a game, he won 2. It was great just to reconnect, doing something we used to do pre-marriage and pre-baby. I loved the high fives, fist bumps and clapping every time someone got a strike! Which, by the way... I think Brad got like 4 in a row at one point. Part of me (the strange part) kind of felt sad - I miss this about us. I kind of miss the "just us" every now and again. I love being a momma and wouldnt trade it for the world...but there is something so special about the husband/wife relationship, and in the mix of raising our 1st baby I'm afraid I've gotten caught up so much in babyhood...miss my Bradley.
(Ahem, mushy..... sorry)
After our last bowling game we headed over to Starbucks. This was the second part of our FREE date. You see, we buy whole beans to grind at home...and we are fairly particular about the brews we buy. Starbucks usually makes its appearance. When you buy the whole bean bags @ the grocery store you will see a little note at the top of the bag that says, "return this bag to any Starbucks for a free cup of coffee". Score! So, I had two empty bags ready to be redeemed and no better time then our "almost free date" to use them. :) Almost free again, because, well...they had those amazing pumpkin muffins. You know, the kind with the cream cheese center and baked pumpkin seeds on top... yea, those. So, $4 for muffins. But still - that brings our entire date to a whopping $14!!! In my opinion - you can't beat it! We settled in on the comphy velvet chairs and had some good conversation about ministry, family and our upcoming vacay to FL. It was then I had a chance to just watch Brad, uninterrupted. He's handsome...and intelligent, and passionate and wise. I missed him. And, now that I again had the taste of "date night" I want to make it a goal to do this as often as possible, whether "almost free" or not.
A very wise friend and mentor in my life once told me that in marriage you have to have the three "R's": Renew daily, Refresh monthly, Retreat yearly. What she meant by that was (and sorry, KP, if I botch this) - Renew daily: sit down, away from kids if possible, and connect with your spouse. Talk about life, encourage each other. Refresh monthly: date nights, even if that is putting the kids to bed and having a special dinner on "good dishes", or, renting a movie and cuddling (on the same couch) and lastly, Retreat Yearly: GET AWAY. Something Brad and I have yet to do... Find a weekend to get away just the two of you. Even if its a hotel in your own town - just to get away and focus on each other. Kids, jobs and life are distracting. Save those pennies and make it a priority to leave the kids and find your spouse. Personally, we are going to a marriage retreat in two weeks and I am so excited. It's exactly 5 minutes from our house - but its in a nice hotel and Ava will be with a babysitter overnight. It's not much, and certainly not fancy...but it's a retreat, just me and my love. Kids are important - spouses are #1 priority.
Anyway, just thanking God for my James 1:17 guy and excited to see what the future holds for us. And, who doesn't love an "almost free" date night :) Yay for being frugal!