Valentine’s Day is one of my very favorite days of the year. Not because of the expectation of flowers (my husband knows better – I’d rather have them on a random Tuesday in July just because it’s pretty outside), jewelry (in my opinion there are more unique finds other days of the year), or
chocolate . Forget that. I like chocolate every day of the year, so on February 14th, I guess I have an actual excuse.
I love Valentine’s Day because I love LOVE! I love a day dedicated to celebrating love…and all kinds of love. I love having an excuse to proclaim my love for my husband, daughters, parents, other family, friends, my kids’ teachers..anyone! As far as holidays go, Valentine’s Day might JUST be my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I am one of Jesus’ biggest fans, but we humans have somehow messed up his birthday in lots of ways. As I’ve become a parent, I feel my agitation level rise each December by the lightening deal sales, endless trail of ads, and the expectations we all place on ourselves of buying, and spending, doing, and going instead of placing emphasis on LOVING each other. So call me a scrooge (you can direct all hate mail directly to me!), but even as I fight valiantly for some time dedicated to truly loving my family and friends in December, I find myself LOVING a day devoted to LOVE!
Valentines Day is the one day where we do several things I can’t get enough of. It’s the day when some form of stationary is wildly accepted and adored. I love pretty paper and fancy pens. I love mailing a card just as much as I love receiving one in the mailbox that sits outside my house and not on my laptop…one that I can actually hold. I even occasionally still spray a letter with perfume (lucky for my husband, even if I haven’t outgrown this girlish habit, I have moved on from Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth perfume! SHUT THE FRONT DOOR, they still make it! REALLY.) On Valentine’s Day we can give and receive small unexpected treats that don’t cost a lot but that show we care or appreciate someone. Better yet, it’s customary to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a meal. And while this used to (and occasionally still does) take the shape of a fancy dinner where I get the chance to wear heels, I’m just as happy with candlelight take out dinner for our family of 4 in our PJ’s at home.
So in celebration of the day of LOVE, that I LOVE to LOVE, I wanted to share a few ideas with you… some creative (and as usual, PLAY and DEVELOPMENTALLY driven) ways to celebrate LOVE in your home over the next few weeks.
THE VALENTINES BOX was one of my favorite activities as a child. I remember in grade school, my friends and I planning our designs and swapping supplies galore – paper, stickers, doilies, tin foil to adorn the boxes we proudly presented. We made this box today out of supplies I had lying around from other projects. I automatically looked for the cereal box to cut the traditional mail slot hole in. My daughter preferred a more modern take using a left over Christmas box! If your child is school aged or not, creating boxes to keep at home can be fun. Fill with LOVE notes or treats for each person in your family this month!
THE CLASS CRAFT is something I feel like I’ve been assigned to since we entered preschool…2 kids..one in 1st grade and one in 3rd grade…if my memory is correct, this will be the 9th and 10th Valentine’s Day crafts. I felt uninspired this year. I’m not a lover of the foam crafts and am kind of over dragging messy supplies to the elementary school. Over the love bugs. Over the melted crayon shaped into a heart (even though they are all cute in their own right…maybe I am just getting OLD). Plus, even though I have two girls, I felt like elementary school BOYS just wouldn’t be pumped about all the heart shaped crafts and …pink stuff (am I wrong?). So, I finally decided ..key chains. Simple, “big kid” cool, and not messy. I’m using a veggie and dip serving tray with a bead assortment like this to make keychains. Here they are!
THE JEWELS. If you have a tiny tot, I can’t say enough about the benefits of stringing beads for fine motor development. An easy way to do this is to use a ribbon or shoe string and some wide cylinder shaped noodles (rigatoni are easiest at first). Be sure to tape one side to the table so that tiny hands can both work on one side of the string. Forget what I said about jewelry before…what woman (or man) wouldn’t love a one of a kind noodle creation?
SQUEEZING MY HEART. Another fine motor activity I love is using tonges (or tweezers) for play. Children love this as the tool is novel (and usually off limits to them). Have them pick up small paper or foam hearts out of an egg carton like shown here and place them in a bowl. Expand to sort by color or work on making a pattern! For more fine motor activities that encourage purposeful play, check out 1-2-3 Just Play With Me HERE.
KEEP UP THE LOVE. Keep a few red, white, or pink blown up balloons nearby this month for motor driven fun. Babies can chase while crawling (always supervise to avoid choking of course), toddlers can practice their kick, and older kids can play keep-it-up (great for hand/eye coordination!)
DAILY LOVE REMINDERS. Children need reminded we love them more than we think they do. Frame a piece of colorful paper and add a daily LOVE note by their bed each day, listing special and silly reasons why you love them!
SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED. Finally, help your child learn to spread the LOVE! Make cards or bookmarks for family members and deliver or mail them. If your child can’t write yet, ask them what they like about Grandma and write it down for them, or let them scribble!
These are all suggestions that encourage development but without much effort and little supplies – and just like Valentine’s Day that’s what I like best. LOW on planning and prep and HIGH on interaction and bonding. You ARE your child’s favorite toy! When I was young, my mother (an over worked teacher) didn’t have endless hours to bake and craft. And although she does make THE best chocolate chip cookies (more these days for her grandchildren!), when we were young, she frequently treated us by purchasing the most amazing holiday sugar cookies from a family friend who had an in home bakery. She’d pick them up after work on Easter, Halloween, Christmas, the 4th of July etc. My brother and I looked forward to the beautifully designed hearts and cupids on Valentine’s Day that tasted better than they looked! If you like a chewy sugar cookie – these are THE best. So, my gift to you this Valentine’s Day to show all our Milestone’s & Miracles readers how much Lacy & I LOVE you and appreciate all you’ve done for our growing business, is to share this recipe with you!
Miss Tora’s Sugar Sensations
3/4 c Margarine
3/4 c Crisco
2 c Sugar
2 t Vanilla
Blend ingredients well.
Mix in the following, adding 1 heaping spoonful at a time.
5 c Flour
2 t Baking Powder
1 t salt
Chill over night. Roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness on floured board. Bake on un-greased cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes.
2/3 c Soft Margarine
6 c confectionary sugar
3 t vanilla
4 T milk
Beat until smooth. Color icing as you wish and decorate!
Whether you pass on love this year in the form of these cookies or other treats to a deserving friend or teacher, send cards, or visit a senior center with your children, I hope you will deliberately take time to LOVE and be LOVED. Our world seems crazy & angry & just…mean these days…ready to fight over ANYTHING. Let’s spread the love that’s so needed through OUR examples as parents, grandparents, teachers, therapists, or anyone who influences children…It starts in our homes. Teach by example! Share love! Share kindness! And PLEASE …Share CHOCOLATE!