How We Spent Our Valentine's Day

Feb 15, 2013

One of Gretchen Rubin's goals in Happier at Home was to make even the little holidays special (or something like that--she probably had a much more clever way of saying it). The resolution was prompted by a morning visit to a friend's house,where she found the remnants of a holiday breakfast. She was so taken with the idea that she decided to implement it at her own house. And I was so taken with her idea that I decided to do it myself for Valentine's Day.

Of course, there is nothing unique about the idea of having a holiday breakfast. (I'm pretty sure that's what all the heart-shaped pancakes I saw pinned all over Pinterest were for.) But somehow, Gretchen's idea seemed so much simpler, probably because it was less about getting up at 4:00 in the morning to make pink cinnamon rolls and more about going to the dollar store to pick up a package of heart-shaped paper plates. All of a sudden I realized that it didn't matter if I served my kids cereal and toast for a holiday breakfast as long as it was packaged and presented in a special way. Even though I should have been able to figure this out on my own, I still felt so liberated. My kids are early risers (6:00, on the dot), and they are always starving when they wake up, so the thought of having to get up before them to make something extra special was exhausting to think about.  But just setting a special table could easily be done the night before. (I'm a little baffled that it has taken me two paragraphs to explain how to purchase cups and plates from the dollar store, but there it is.

In the end, I actually did make one of those recipes floating around Pinterest (Churro Waffles--they looked so good!), but I just mixed the batter up the night before, so all I had to do the next morning was mix the wet and dry ingredients and pour it into the waffle iron. And my boys were so excited with what was on the table, they definitely didn't mind waiting five minutes.

I snapped this picture before I went to bed the night before, and now, looking at it this afternoon, I'm realizing a red tablecloth would have made the whole thing look so much better. Oh well, the boys loved it anyway (they thought breakfast by candlelight was pretty awesome), and Mike actually gave me a big bouquet of flowers that he put between the candlesticks, so it looked better than what's pictured. (And why am I showing pictures and then sending up all these disclaimers and such? We loved it, it was simple, so it was everything I wanted.)

Anyway, you can see the boys got candy and books. Aaron got The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Paul Galdone. (We love all the fairy tales retold by Galdone, but the boys especially love this one because of the mean, nasty troll.) Max got The Wide-Mouthed Frog by Keith Faulkner. (There are many retellings of this story, but I love the simplicity of this pop- up version.) And Bradley got Peek-a-Moo by Marie Torres Cimarusti. (Which I almost didn't give him because I have such bad memories of a former storytime librarian who did different peek-a-boo books every week, including this one, and always said "Peek-a-boo!" in the same high, squeaky way. Luckily, I swallowed my prejudices because Bradley loves it).

These books offered a great excuse to bring down my stash of thrift store finds, which I was happy to do since I've been banned from buying anymore until there's room in the box again. (I wish you could flip through The Wide-Mouthed Frog; all of the pop-ups are in mint condition, and it only cost me $0.69!)

Mike gave me a little booklet of "Five Poems, in five styles, all about books." I thought, since this is a book blog, it would be appropriate to share a couple of them here.

First, the free verse:

A Book

                                                                    A book
                                                                    Not shaped like a heart 
                                                                                                I start

                                                                    Then look
                                                                    Not just a heart I find
                                                                                            A mind

And also, the limerick (because it's so true and makes me laugh every time):

Enough Books

Surrounded by books to be read:
In baskets, on chairs and the bed.
I hope she's not drowned
By the stacks on the ground
Piling up 'til they're over her head.

Earlier in the month, I thought Aaron was just going to want to make all the valentines for his friends himself. He was quite obsessed with cutting out hearts and writing I Love You for a couple of days. He probably made five or six that he mailed to family members, but after that, it was something of a battle to get him to do anything.  I decided it wasn't worth the fight. Instead, I picked up these little hopping frogs, stuck them in a small treat bag and stapled them closed with the words: Knowing you makes me want to LEAP for joy! So easy, and all he had to do was sign his name.

At noon, the boys and I went to a little Valentine's party given by a friend. And that night, Mike and I went to our good friends' house for dinner. We didn't have to fight the Valentine's Day crowds, Kathy made a to-die-for Peanut Butter Cheesecake that looked like it had come straight from The Cheesecake Factory, and we got to celebrate James' 30th birthday. A fun, and even a little bit romantic, day all around.


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  2. Cute! I love it! My parents made cookies for all the kids living in their cul-de-sac. I think they are trying to be the honorary grandparents of the neighborhood.

  3. Wonderful!
    What matters is that you had fun.
    My husband and I always go for ethnic food.
    We find the crowds are much smaller in little Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, or Thai places.

  4. That's a lovely way to celebrate! And I completely agree with Gretchen and with you - you don't have to get up at 4 am to make something special, just a few touches make all the difference.


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