Wednesday, February 22, 2017

My Favorite Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day sort of snuck up on me this year.  Our family, like everyone else it seems, has been passing around one virus after another since the new year started and we were barely tackling the daily stuff, let alone finding space to craft Cruz's very first Valentine's box, carve out time for him to write out the names of twenty classmates, and make sure I added a new paper heart to their bedroom doors with a daily message of love leading up to Valentine's day.  In fact, the day before Valentine's day, I was up to an unimpressive total of seven hearts on their doors instead of thirteen, and this was just enough to make me put just a little more thought into ways to make our ordinary Tuesday just a little bit extraordinary.  

And as it often turns out for me, these little adventures of thinking on my feet and making the most of the space I have often lead to some of the sweetest surprises.  Since Tuesday is one of my busier days of the workweek, I knew there wouldn't be time for much dinner prep.  We considered going out to eat as a family, but something called me to stay home and make things special here.  So, we thawed a roast overnight and threw it in the slow cooker the next morning with carrots, potatoes, and a yummy balsamic glaze.  

Then, during my lunch break Tuesday, I swung by Scratch Cupcakery for our dessert, then ran home to transform our dining room into a little getaway for our romantic dinner for four.  It was amazing what two strings of white Christmas lights did for the ambience, and I could only imagine how pretty it would look at night with all the lights off.  With a little bit of time to spare, I wrote love notes on the remaining seven paper hearts, but instead of hanging them on their doors, created a little scavenger hunt by taping each heart in random places throughout the house for the kids to find when they got home.

The kids noticed the Christmas light decor instantly, as well as the cupcakes and pretty red packages at each of their table settings.  Otis Redding set the mood and the scent of our dinner filled the air.  When Beau got home, we cracked open a bottle of red, passed around bowls of red raspberries and yummy baked bread, and all sat down for what would be one of my favorite family dinners ever.

As we ate, we all took turns sharing things we loved most about each other.  I told Mila I loved that she always asks for family hugs, and Mila told Daddy that she likes when he plays babies with her.  Beau loves when Cruz does projects with him, and Cruz loves when I make him peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  We went around and around and the presents and cupcakes kept them at the table for much longer than typical!  It was the first dinner conversation that gave me a little peak into our family years from now - hopefully just engaging in longer and deeper moments around the table. 

After cupcakes, a new Lego set for Cruz, and a new Ariel doll for Mila, it was off to bed for the kids.  Then, with a box of assorted chocolates and the rest of our wine, Beau and I curled up together on the couch and snuck in an extra date night ourselves.  We wrote down our favorite ten memories of our last ten years and shared them with each other.  The list reminded us of memories of him carrying me across the threshold of his tiny apartment the night of our first date, and spending three hours making a single Bobby Flay recipe in the duplex, only to spend another three hours doing dishes in our dishwasher-less apartment.  We told each other that looking back, we both a feeling we would get married after our first date.  And then we laughed and said that even if we were on the fence, Beau's sweet Grandma J confirmed our marriage plans the moment she saw us together a month or so into our relationship.  Boy would she love to see the little life we've created now...

I went to bed happy, content, and full of love for this stage our family is in.  These years of having the kids here go by fast and it's easy to get caught in the shuffle of the daily grind of this life.  That's why I love even the sappy, Hallmark holidays, for they give us a good excuse to bring in a little magic to the mundane, a sparkle amidst the structure, a little extraordinary in the otherwise ordinary.  When the kids are big and grown, I hope when Valentine's Day rolls around they recall white lights thrown all over the dining room, paper hearts taped to the toilet seat, and dance parties to Otis Redding.  But most of all, I hope they recall the sweet messages of love shared around our table, and a love that far surpasses any holiday on the calendar.

More pictures of our Valentine's Day... 

...Mila got the fun Valentines this year!  Cruz just wanted a box of superhero ones with Reeses!  What would we do without Target's dollar bins?! 

...The weekend before Valentines, Beau and I took each kid on a fun little date.  Mila and I dropped the boys off at the movie theater for the new Lego Batman movie, and Mila and I went and got our nails did!

...Cruz's Valentine's box turned out so cool.  Believe it or not, the box was inspired by decor from Cruz's 4th birthday party, and I even had a few leftover supplies in a box downstairs!  Just a wrapped cereal box with a few fun accessories.  It was quite the hit! 

...One of my favorite Valentine's day traditions.  Sorting through all the kids' cards and candies.  The kids were fans, too. :)


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