There are times, when passion just pours from my heart as I write something that I deeply connect with or feel. This is one of those times.
We have a group of friends that have re-connected from our high school years. This group of eight takes a turn every month hosting a dinner party at our homes. What we have decided to do is have every other soiree with children, and the opposites without children. On the fifth turn, the eight of us will put on our finest, and hit the town for an evening out.
We kicked things off with a birthday in June. The limo was rented, the booze was flowing, tunes cranked and the evening only partially planned. We jaunted from venue to venue with no real plan other than dinner reservations, and had an absolute ball. Sometimes, when you click with people, you just click. This group of eight has an unbelievable dynamic. We are all so different yet alike at the same time. After that amazing evening in June, we vowed to continue the tradition every month. This is always easy to say however not always so simple to coordinate and commit to. I'm happy to say that this plan was not at all lip service, and so, we carried on.
In July, it was mine and Michael's turn to host. We have rented apartments for many years and not had the space or luxury to entertain and we really felt like we owed our friends an evening to remember. Given the fact they are all full-time employees as well as parents, we put a lot of effort into ensuring our friends and guests would be able to put their feet up and enjoy.
I carefully arranged some music compilations to suit the mood of the entire evening from the upbeat beginning, to the mellow dinner, and back in the swing of things after dessert and finally lounge-like beats to phase out the night.
We created a welcome drink which was reminiscent to us of our honeymoon in Mexico and symbolized the long flight and adventures of finally walking in the lobby and putting our feet up. The welcome drink to our friends was just as symbolic as they rarely get a chance to relax. This beverage consisted of jamaican rum, bitters, pineapple juice, orange juice, a pinch of sugar, splash of lemon juice, and a mint leaf for garnish.
An appetizer soon followed with a prosciutto wrapped peach. The first course entailed a two potato bisque lovingly created by my husband and an avocado salad with bacon, arugula and lemon juice. In between this course, we took a break from the table as the ladies gathered outside and the men gathered in the kitchen. In between courses, we digested our food with some Italian Limoncello liqueors. We returned to the table where we dined on a cilantro coleslaw, candied carrots, fingerling potatoes, stuffed pork loin with herbs and peaches, followed by a raspberry & lemon pie, all made by the one and only, Michael Lewicki.
We had a round table discussion of what we loved the most about our spouses and there were many emotional tears shed. It was a fairly unplanned evening, but you know what they say about spontaneity being best sometimes. My rule of thumb is to always over-plan and then go with the flow.
We sent our guests off with full bellies and no automobiles as they wisely took a taxi home until the next day when they could safely return to get their cars.
Last night, we continued our party at my girlfriend's. We weren't sure what to expect since the house would be full of kids but we knew it would be a different venue. We arrived at 5:30 pm and were looking forward to watching the kiddies jump in the bouncy castle however we weren't sure if electricity and rain quite mixed? We opted out of the bouncy castle and were entertained by the kids' antics.
The host and hostess ran around seemingly effortlessly making sure everyone was comfortable. I marvelled at how my friend prepared food in front of us and kept the kids under control at the same time. We had engaged in several conversations and I don't think any were completely finished. Appetizers of bruschetta and salsa mix laid on the island while we all centered around the food and conversation. The kids ate well and I wondered how my friends so calmly hosted a party of 14? Colourful plates and snacks and cutlery were placed out to please the eye and appetite of the wee ones. The ambiance was wonderful, positive and comfortable and everyone was happy.
An older boy took the responsibility of watching the girls while the adults ate dinner and had a chance to enjoy conversation and great food. We really enjoyed the Australian Shiraz that was served with the most perfect cut of meat you could ask for. Double-baked potatoes and grilled veggies with a balsamic glaze complimented our meal to perfection. Did I mention the candied walnuts the hostess made to adorn the salad? A snack worth having on it's own! The cobbler and ice cream was the belly-busting finale and we all stepped away from the table to relax.
The men of course, took in some sports and lounging. The women, gathered their dames and headed for a slumber party of sorts. We watched in amusement as the young toddlers and girls bounced off the walls with excitement as they performed songs of whatever the moment struck them. We had a chain train massage and chatted on the bed and floor. It was jammie time and my girlfriend challenged me to get her twin girls dressed for bed. I asked myself what the big deal was, and then spent the next half an hour chasing and bribing them to get their pajamas on. I finally succeeded when I locked the bathroom door and promised them I would put mine on as well. Little did I realize they would continually remind me of my promise which was one I couldn't keep since I did not have access to my sleepwear at that moment!
We spent the remainder of the night as a group chatting, laughing and snuggling with the kids.
We arrived home after midnight and I was far more tired than I was at our own party. I think what Michael and I discovered was how much joy children bring, but at the same time, the exhaustion parents go through. It's nice to switch things up a bit and add some balance to our lives, as childless people as well as our friends with kids who sometimes need adult time.
One thing is for sure in my eyes. Balance, in life, is most certainly important. You need a break from the norm sometimes. If you spend all day, every day for your kids, it's crucial to get away once in awhile and be pampered. Alternatively, the unconditional love and innocence that children offer is nothing that could ever be bought in a store. In life, if the childless couple and the couple with kids could see eye to eye, and put themselves in the other's shoes sometimes, there may be far less resentment dually. I'm proud to say, in our group of 8, there is zero judgement about the other's lifestyle or choices.
We waved goodbye to our friends, until next time, and watched as their little ones grew tired and weary and were ready to scurry their tiny feet and full hearts to bed.
Thanks for the memories. See you in September.