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Mid-week meal for two

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

My husband and I aren't great about getting out of the house alone. We need to be better, I think, but it's a challenge with the various crazy schedules and the resulting desire to just fall over at the end of the week. Not to mention how much baby-sitters cost these days.

We are good about having dinner as a family. Usually five nights a week we eat all together, and often six. Wednesday nights during the school year is our regular, expected exception to a family dinner.

On Wednesday nights, Alfs has choir practice at 6:30PM. Next school year, Woody will, too. As my husband typically does not get home until 6:45PM or 7:00PM, this makes a family dinner impossible. Therefore, on Wednesdays, I make the kids something very kid friendly (chicken quesadillas or hot dogs or some such), or heat up some leftovers. Then rush everyone into the car to drop off Alfs.

Until a year or so ago, my husband and I would just pick through leftovers on our own during the course of the evening. It was fine. Unremarkable, but fine.

Then it occurred to me that Wednesday nights could be our chance to eat something more grown-up. Something we really liked and we didn't need to worry about relative kid friendliness. The meal could have mushrooms or squash or nori in it and there wouldn't be any protestations! And so began our little routine of a mid-week meal as a couple.

After getting Alfs to choir, I come home and try to do any needed advance prep for our meal or a little kitchen clean-up while Woody and Sunshine play. My husband gets home and decompresses a bit, plays with the kids, and so on. Then my husband goes to pick up Alfs at 8:00PM while I get Sunshine and/or Woody ready for bed (if Sunshine didn't insist on going with Daddy). Once Alfs is home, we get through the whole bedtime routine by about 9:00PM. Then I come downstairs and make dinner.

Usually by about 9:30PM, we're eating. Yes, it's a little late, but it's fine for once a week when it's just the two of us. I'd like to tell you that we also make sure to sit in the dining room and light candles, too, but I can't. Well, sometimes we have, but in the winter months, as often as not, we eat on the loveseat. We're sitting close at least, and catching up. In the warmer months we do often eat at the table on the screened porch, and by candlelight.

Even if we do need to go do other things after the meal, at least it's a little time that's just the two of us.

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