We had an unexpected gap of free time this afternoon. Theresa was scheduled to work Saturday afternoon and evening, arriving home around 10pm, and then the early shift on Sunday, which would have had her home around 4pm. Not much time left, after dog walking, church, meals, etc. It was going to be a very quiet (read: boring) weekend. Instead, she ended doing the two shifts back-to-back, working continuously from 1pm Saturday afternoon until around 8am on Sunday. That meant she'd sleep through part of the day on Sunday, but we'd have a couple of extra hours. We spent it doing something we haven't done in months -- dinner out with the whole family.
We walked about 15 minutes, in cold but clear weather, to a small Italian restaurant in Eastcote that offers the best mix of choices for even the pickiest eaters among us. Most of the kids had pizza. I went for linguine Frutti di Mare, a mix of pasta, mussels, squid and prawns. Theresa splurged on a monk fish dish.
It was just what I needed. I woke up crabby and anxious already about the week ahead, which will include my own overnight shift on Thursday. The dinner took my mind off that and made me feel more like I've had a weekend. It also reminded me that we're heading into a nice stage with the kids. All of them are old enough now to have real conversations at the dinner table. We're not battling to keep them quiet out of fear of disturbing the peace. We still played 21 questions, as normal (answer: ice cube), and a staring contest (I remain world champion), but the atmosphere at a family dinner is getting more and more "adult" every year. I'll miss the youngster stage, of course, but not that much.